Sunday, November 04, 2007

What can we learn from the food industry?

Finnish companies (food) keep records on the origin of raw materials, and production series are of reasonable size. This makes it possible to track the history of each product.

The Finnish food industry is small and well organized. Companies keep records on the origin of raw materials. This makes it possible to track history of each product, which is not always an option i mega-sized industries.

Companies like Raisio and Valio have developed food products for people with lactose intolerance, coeliac disease and allergies. Such companies and products are ideal for tracing connections between microbial toxins and raw materials, as well as manufacturing conditions.

Their contract farms could be used to track the effects of harvesting, storage and transport methods.

The Finnish paper industry, meanwhile, makes sophisticated products for specific purposes. Once research advances in food safety risks and the conditions that prevent such developments, purpose-designed food packaging could be designed.

While such targeted planning is crucial, we are going to need broad and sweeping new ideas and working methods.

Politicians, for instance, seek publicity by picking out one single threat instead of searching for broader solutions. This leads to unbalanced threat classification; threats are easily exaggerated or underestimated.

Unfortunately, the future we're interested in is too close to the present, too short-term. Perhaps we don't dare face all the future challenges that are already visible today.

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