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Could “Comic Contracts” help protect vulnerable workers?

South African group Indigo Fruit Growers thinks they can.

The company, which produces, packs and supplies ClemenGold mandarins to local and international markets, developed the concept in a bid to make contracts easier to understand for farmworkers.

The registered idea Comic Contracts was originally put forward by Robert de Rooy, a South African lawyer based in Cape Town and legal counsel for ClemenGold for many years. Comic Contract

The concept uses visualization to improve the understanding of contractual terms: the parties are represented by characters and illustrations are used to explain the terms of the contract.

The company said the contracts challenge the “taken-for-granted assumption” that only text can capture the terms of a contract”, by using mainly pictures instead of words for a binding agreement.

“It is based on the fact that pictures are easier to understand and easier to remember. The purpose of a Comic Contract is to empower the parties to understand each other, to understand what they expect from each other, and what they are committing to,” de Rooy said in a release.

Indigo Fruit Growers said the contracts were especially designed to address the needs of vulnerable employees: employees who either cannot read well or have difficulties understanding the language in which the contract is written.

Whilst the legal system requires that all employees have an employment contract, it assumes that everyone can read proficiently and understand the contractual terms presented to them.

However, the company claimed this was rarely the case in South Africa, especially in sectors employing low-skill workers such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing and domestic work.

“The way in which most contracts are drafted and presented (‘this is standard, sign it or leave it’) does not support a good relationship. Most employees don’t read it, nor would they be able to understand it if they tried,” de Rooy said, adding the situation perpetuated the power imbalance between employers and employees.

The release said under these circumstances employees were bound to terms which they don’t understand, couldn’t live up to, and could not use to hold their employers accountable, which meant misunderstanding and conflict in the workplace should come as no surprise.

“We are really excited about the transparency this contract brings to our employee relations,” said ANB Investments CEO Abs van Rooyen, whose company owns Indigo.

“It creates a more equitable situation, which can only be the start of a more ‘honest’ relationship with our employees. I believe that workers can only commit fully to the content of a contract if they understand what they are signing.”

Indigo recently initiated the implementation of the Comic Contracts, which were first presented to 50 fruit pickers who had previously worked for Indigo. Indigo. Following the successful induction of these 50 workers, the contract was presented the next day to a further 163 fruit-pickers.

“The feedback was positive. No picker asked for the old contract,” said farm manager Faan Kruger.

“Although everything was new and there were many questions, the process went much faster than with a traditional contract.”

www.freshfruitportal.com

 

 

FreshFruitPortal.com

Hydrogen sulfide greatly enhances plant growth: Key ingredient in mass extinctions could boost food, biofuel production

TGF-FruitImageApr. 17, 2013 — Hydrogen sulfide, the pungent stuff often referred to as sewer gas, is a deadly substance implicated in several mass extinctions, including one at the end of the Permian period 251 million years ago that wiped out more than three-quarters of all species on Earth.

But in low doses, hydrogen sulfide could greatly enhance plant growth, leading to a sharp increase in global food supplies and plentiful stock for biofuel production, new University of Washington research shows.

“We found some very interesting things, including that at the very lowest levels plant health improves. But that’s not what we were looking for,” said Frederick Dooley, a UW doctoral student in biology who led the research.

Dooley started off to examine the toxic effects of hydrogen sulfide on plants but mistakenly used only one-tenth the amount of the toxin he had intended. The results were so unbelievable that he repeated the experiment. Still unconvinced, he repeated it again — and again, and again. In fact, the results have been replicated so often that they are now “a near certainty,” he said.

“Everything else that’s ever been done on plants was looking at hydrogen sulfide in high concentrations,” he said.

The research is published online April 17 in PLOS ONE, a Public Library of Science journal.

At high concentrations — levels of 30 to 100 parts per million in water — hydrogen sulfide can be lethal to humans. At one part per million it emits a telltale rotten-egg smell. Dooley used a concentration of 1 part per billion or less to water seeds of peas, beans and wheat on a weekly basis. Treating the seeds less often reduced the effect, and watering more often typically killed them.

With wheat, all the seeds germinated in one to two days instead of four or five, and with peas and beans the typical 40 percent rate of germination rose to 60 to 70 percent.

“They germinate faster and they produce roots and leaves faster. Basically what we’ve done is accelerate the entire plant process,” he said.

Crop yields nearly doubled, said Peter Ward, Dooley’s doctoral adviser, a UW professor of biology and of Earth and space sciences and an authority on Earth’s mass extinctions.

Hydrogen sulfide, probably produced when sulfates in the oceans were decomposed by sulfur bacteria, is believed to have played a significant role in several extinction events, in particular the “Great Dying” at the end of the Permian period. Ward suggests that the rapid plant growth could be the result of genetic signaling passed down in the wake of mass extinctions.

At high concentrations, hydrogen sulfide killed small plants very easily while larger plants had a better chance at survival, he said, so it is likely that plants carry a defense mechanism that spurs their growth when they sense hydrogen sulfide.

“Mass extinctions kill a lot of stuff, but here’s a legacy that promotes life,” Ward said.

Dooley recently has applied hydrogen sulfide treatment to corn, carrots and soybeans with results that appear to be similar to earlier tests. But it is likely to be some time before he, and the general public, are comfortable with the level of testing to make sure there are no unforeseen consequences of treating food crops with hydrogen sulfide.

The most significant near-term promise, he believes, is in growing algae and other stock for biofuels. Plant lipids are the key to biofuel production, and preliminary tests show that the composition of lipids in hydrogen sulfide-treated plants is the same as in untreated plants, he said.

When plants grow to larger-than-normal size, they typically do not produce more cells but rather elongate their existing cells, Dooley said. However, in the treatment with hydrogen sulfide, he found that the cells actually got smaller and there were vastly more of them. That means the plants contain significantly more biomass for fuel production, he said.

“If you look at a slide of the cells under a microscope, anyone can understand it. It is that big of a difference,” he said.

Ward and Suven Nair, a UW biology undergraduate, are coauthors of the PLOS ONE paper. The work was funded by the UW Astrobiology Program.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Washington. The original article was written by Vince Stricherz.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Journal Reference:

  1. Frederick D. Dooley, Suven P. Nair, Peter D. Ward. Increased Growth and Germination Success in Plants following Hydrogen Sulfide Administration. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (4): e62048 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062048

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Haggen buy could trigger West Coast rollup

Haggen’s surprise acquisition of 146 spun-off Albertsons and Safeway stores will propel the small regional brand into five states — and position it as a potential acquirer of additional West Coast chains also seeking greater scale, sources told SN.

Bill Shaner, the former Save-A-Lot executive hired as CEO of Haggen’s nascent Pacific Southwest division, in an interview with SN said the stores the Bellingham, Wash.-based chain is acquiring are in sound financial health but stand to improve under the Haggen brand, which the company intends to introduce at the stores in the coming months.

“It’s a blend of stores, but a lot of them are terrific — very profitable, very successful, strong sales trends, great store teams,” Shaner said. “Like any fleet of stores, some are better than others, but at the end of the day what we were able to buy are stores that are healthy, profitable and frankly, we think under the Haggen brand, have the opportunity to do even better going forward.”

Haggen’s confidence in the success of the pivotal acquisition stems from several factors including anticipation of a smooth transition enabled by the retention of existing store management and hourly employees, the potential for growth inherent in expansion of Haggen’s fresh-focused format and greater scale and buying power, Shaner said. A transition services agreement with Supervalu will allow for continuation of IT systems currently in use at Albertsons, he added.

“As part of the acquisition details we’re keeping all the store teams — all the management teams, and all the hourly teammates, and that’s key because they are running a great store right now and we won’t have concerns about store operations suffering related to having the right people in the stores. That’s a huge thing,” Shaner said.

Haggen format took shape in its Northwest Fresh stores in Washington. The Chuckanut Deli (above) includes made-to-order sandwiches, hot soups, antipasto bar, local meats, sausages, and local and imported cheeses. Haggen collaborated with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in reconfiguring the coffee department (below). And the Discovery Bay Wine Shop (bottom) offers a sit-down area.“The ability to partner with Supervalu to support the infrastructure, IT systems, all the business processes in the existing Albertsons stores, is also important,” he added. “Frankly without that we wouldn’t have been able to successfully operate the stores but the fact is, for the Albertsons stores, the order entry system, and the other the things they work with every day will stay the same. There will be some tweaks, but not a dramatic change in how they will operate day to day, and that gives us a lot of confidence. The relationship with Supervalu will also help us convert the Safeway stores over to these systems.”

Haggen’s exisiting systems run just 18 stores now but have capacity to handle a much larger base, Shaner added.

The Haggen format — showcased at its Northwest Fresh stores in Washington — emphasizes fresh presentation, local sourcing and strong culture and community ties within a conventional grocery setting, and represent a unique entrant in many of the markets it will enter in coming months, Shaner said.

“They are beautiful stores. I would put them in the same ballpark as the Wegmans, the better Harris Teeter’s, the Mariano’s and the better H-E-Bs,” Shaner said. “They combine the very best of what the conventional stores do along with the gourmet stores, and the organic/natural, fresh and healthy stores.”

The impetus to expand the brand was sparked by a need to more effectively compete within a large and diverse field, said Scott Moses, managing director of Sagent Advisors, which advised Haggen, which is majority owned by the private equity firm Comvest Partners. Although a purchase price was not disclosed, the divestiture created a unique buying opportunity, sources added.

“Haggen’s acquisition growth is another example of a decades-old regional grocer adding scale to combat an ever-rising tide of food retail competition from much larger, well-capitalized supercenters, club stores, natural-focused grocers, drugstores and dollar stores, as well as numerous online operators such as Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Target.com and Drugstore.com,” Moses told SN in an interview.


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The greater scale at Haggen could eventually attract other small retailers in the West facing similar challenges, Shaner acknowledged.

“For now, we’re going to be very focused on taking the stores we’ve just acquired and making them the very best they can be,” he said. “But Comvest really understands the grocery space and I’m sure they’d be willing to look at all opportunities.”

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Supermarket News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Food Safety News