Smartphone to brag about food safety?

My colleagues have wonderful toys.

I can’t complain, I prefer the 17-inch MacBook Pro because I write and edit and read a lot, but Chapman and Amy and Gonzo, they’re all about their iPads and iPhones and gizmos. They figure out how it works and then can explain it in Doug-speak if I need something.

So I’m not sure how Food Quality magazine ended up asking me about the new NEC smartphone app for tracking produce pedigrees, but I suggested, why not make an app to promote food safety.

“If you’ve invested a lot in food safety, why not brag about it?”

According to the Food Quality article, the technology works much like fingerprinting, because the visible characteristics of most produce are as uniquely identifiable as a person’s prints. Growers can snap a photo of their fruits and vegetables as they’re harvested and give them a unique identifier. When NEC tested the system on 1,800 Andes melons, it claims, the error rate was just one in one million.

According to a news release from NEC, the technology will eliminate the need for RFID (radio frequency identification) and barcodes and significantly reduce costs for produce businesses when it is released commercially within two to three years.

“I think it would be an ideal way to show people your organization’s food safety commitment before an outbreak happens,” Dr. Powell said. “People buy organic, local, natural, sustainable because they think it’s safer, but it’s not necessarily so.”