Latest in an occasional series of reports on food matters of interest to consumers, compiled by Consumers SA Executive member Elaine Attwood. Today there are two articles on ‘BLOCKCHAIN’ a term that most consumers would not be familiar with, so Elaine provides this explanation to appreciate its value:
‘Blockchain is a decentralised, distributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the collusion of the (whole) network.’
Basically it relies on the first person or company in the chain to pass on their digital data to the next, who add theirs and passes that on to the next in the chain and so on. By this method it is possible to be able to trace back to the original source or a link in the chain very efficiently.
Blockchain may also be used in the production and tracing back of a variety of consumer products.
Blockchain can bring supply chain transparency and transform food firms
‘Blockchain can be the ‘key mediator’ to make supply chains more transparent by enabling food firms to share data based on trust, and to transform their operations to be much more efficient, but it will require a fundamental shift in organisational mindsets.’ (Quote from John Keogh from the advisory service Shantalla Inc.)
Mr. Keogh went on to say, ‘Much of what goes on today is termed ‘Regulation Mediated Transparency’(RMT), where information is shared to meet regulatory obligations from a position of mistrust. On the other hand, Technology Mediated Transparency (TMT), which is voluntary and based on mutual trust is a higher form of transparency that organisations and networks should aspire to.’ He feels that Blockchain technology will be the key factor in building this transparency and trust to help solve issues in the supply chain faster.
Apart from the food chain, Mr Keogh pointed to an example of benefits in agriculture. He referred to the ‘connected cow’ where different devices provide crucial data. The tail sensor alone can identify an animal in distress, which in the UK alone, can help save up to 100,00 calf and 50,000 cow deaths during birthing.
Author: Lester Wan 18 Dec 2017 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.
Logistics firms join the fight against fake food in APAC by backing blockchain consortium.
Getting buy-in from freight forwarders, ports and shipping firms is crucial to maximising the food industry potential for blockchain to fight counterfeit goods, according to one start-up, which has formed a consortium to boost use of the technology.
While there has been a huge amount of attention devoted to the power of blockchain – encrypted digital records that cannot be tampered with, only added to, and updated for everyone in the network at the same time - chief revenue officer of the blockchain start up TBSx3, Pieter Vandevelde, said greater regulation was needed to ensure its effectiveness.
Under the consortium, Sydney headquartered TBSx3 has brought together logistics and supply chain giants World Australia and DB Schenker to use the groundbreaking technology. Vandervelde said that 80% of the world’s consumer goods are still shipped over the oceans, meaning that the buy-in from the sector was vital to fight counterfeit goods. The alliance last year tested and utilised technology developed by TBSx3 to complete one of the largest blockchain trials to secure cargo across a global supply chain. It tracked the distribution of wines from Coonawarra, South Australia to the Port of Qingdao in north-eastern China.
“Food and beverage is at the very top of the list of industries that should benefit from blockchain, because consumers are incredibly concerned about what they eat. Being able to guarantee the safety and provenance of products is absolutely essential.”
Food fraud is estimated to cost the global food industry between US$30bn to $40bn annually.
Author: Gary Scattergood 07 Feb-2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.
Australian Senate passes new supplement rules to create “world-class measurement regime"
New supplement rules designed to create “a world-class regulatory regime” in Australia was passed by the Senate on February 16. (2018) The rules, included in the Medicines and Medical Devices Review (MMDR), contain amendments to provide a new approval pathway for listing complementary medicines with high therapeutic indications and health claims.
The new health claim sits between the current, low-risk listed classification for complementary medicines, and the higher level classifications for pharmaceuticals. To qualify to make the new higher-level claims, products must be supported by rigorous scientific evidence, and tested by the regulator: the Therapeutic Goods Administration for efficacy.
Carl Gibson, CEO of industry trade body Complementary Medicines Australia, said “Achieving an appropriate regulatory regimen – one that is supportive of innovation that that doesn’t undermine the current high standards for Australian complementary medicines – will assist the complementary medicines industry to bring innovative new products to both the Australian and global markets”.
After the USA, Australia is the second highest exporter of complementary medicines. The high international demand for Australian products is driving a major expansion of local manufacturing with an anticipated annual growth rate of 3.9%.
Author: Gary Scattergood 16 Feb-2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.
On-pack allergen labelling: permissive, not precautionary, approach ‘would better protect consumers’.
Allergen labelling regulations in Australia need a complete overhaul, claims a new report, which argues that the current voluntary use of “may contain traces” statements are not adequately protecting consumers.
New research by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), being published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, examined reports of anaphylaxis in Australasia from consumption of packaged food products with or without precautionary allergen labelling (PAL), where the known allergen triggers were not a listed ingredient. In Australia two types of labelling are used by manufacturers: mandatory labelling of all ingredients; and precautionary labelling, which is used to inform consumers if a product may have traces of a certain substance.
In this study, members of the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy were invited to complete a questionnaire. The questionnaire found that there had been 14 reports of anaphylaxis following ingestion of a packaged food where the suspected food allergen was not a listed ingredient. And of those reactions, 50% were reported from foods which did not have a PAL statement. The study’s lead author, Dr Giovanni Zurzola, postdoctoral fellow from MCRI and Victoria University, pointed out that PAL labelling is currently voluntary – with some but not all packaged foods labelled with a variety of advisory warnings. The authors suggest that “permissive labelling would highlight safe and suitable foods for allergy affected individuals, and not just for foods which should be avoided, would be a better option.’
Senior author Prof Katie Allen said, “Our study showed that anaphylaxis to undeclared allergens is not rare and did not appear to depend on whether the product was labelled with precautionary advice. Current PAL practices do not assist consumers in selecting foods which are safe for consumption.’
‘Improvements in the regulation of food labelling are required to give consumers the right information to help them make safe choices’, Prof Allen said.
Author: Gary Scattergood 25 Jan 2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.
Note: Please check indicated references for the full text of the articles.