The global food system moves commodities like corn, wheat, soybeans and novelties like wine, cheese, coffee around the globe every day. It connects smallholder farmers in Iowa with consumers in China and puts Szechuan peppers onto plates around the United States. Yet for all its benefits, this is a big machine with many moving parts. Global supply chains of this size are only as safe as our ability to track them. Our ability to see how food moves through this system is a concept known as traceability.
There is no silver bullet to food safety in this country. Supply chains need to be streamlined, technology needs to improve to allow greater visibility, and tighter government regulations need to demand more uniform safety precautions across all growers. The Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Food Safety Coalition, a group of indoor growers, is working to make these changes a reality. In addition to working on new industry-wide food safety regulations, this recently formed coalition brings together indoor growers and an advisory council of researchers, academics, and industry leaders all focused on raising the bar for the industry. Bowery is proud to be a founding member of the organization.
“Traditional food safety standards for produce don’t take into account indoor farming’s growing practices,” says Bowery General Counsel, Christopher Livingston. One example of these shared standards is water usage. In traditional agriculture, water is not typically tested before being used to irrigate crops, which means that it could contain contaminants, such as pesticides or animal manure, from outside sources and pose a threat to public health.
Food safety is human health
Correcting the systemic food safety issues that plague our country every year will take a collaborative effort across growers, suppliers, wholesalers, distributors, regulators, and every other player across the supply chain. We think the safety of our produce is a point of difference at Bowery, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Safe to eat produce shouldn’t be thought of as a competitive edge.
“Food safety is a non-competitive issue within the indoor agricultural industry,” Livingston adds. “We want to raise the level of food safety and compete on things other than food safety. That’s how markets and the industry as a whole will succeed.”
Read the complete article at www.agritechtomorrow.com.