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Tech Revolution: Navigating The Future Of Food Safety In A Digital Age

Kushagra Agrawal

In the dynamic landscape of the food industry, the term “Big Data” has emerged as a pivotal force, signifying the handling of vast and diverse datasets generated at high speeds from various sources. This influx of information necessitates advanced tools and methodologies, including robust processors, software, and algorithms, to manage effectively.

From the farm to the consumer’s table, Big Data applications have permeated every stage of the food supply chain, aiming to optimize production without compromising safety and quality standards. While the integration of Big Data in food safety control is still in its early stages, promising developments, as highlighted by Marvin et al. [1], underscore the potential of these technologies, paving the way for future implementations.

In the realm of Big Data applications in the food industry, a diverse array of data sources plays a pivotal role in shaping a comprehensive understanding of food safety. These sources encompass (online) databases and internet repositories, serving as reservoirs of information critical for assessing and monitoring various facets of the food supply chain. Omics profiling, utilizing advanced biological techniques, provides molecular insights into the composition and safety of food products. Sensors, both in stationary facilities and portable devices, enable real-time data collection, offering a dynamic perspective on key parameters. The widespread use of mobile phones and engagement on social media platforms further contributes to the data pool, facilitating swift information dissemination and incident reporting. Smart surveillance systems, incorporating technologies like video monitoring, enhance real-time monitoring capabilities. 

The integration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, Geographic Information System (GIS), satellite imagery, and blockchain technology collectively amplifies the richness of data, fostering a more resilient and responsive food safety ecosystem. This multifaceted approach to data collection underscores the interconnected and technologically driven landscape of Big Data in the food industry. Some of the Data Sources are discussed below: 

(Online) Databases and Internet:

Access to vast online databases and the internet provides a wealth of information crucial for assessing and ensuring food safety.

Omics Profiling:

Utilizing advanced biological profiling techniques, such as genomics and proteomics, offers a deeper understanding of the molecular aspects of food safety.

Sensors:

Integration of sensors aids in real-time data collection, offering insights into various parameters critical for monitoring food safety.

Mobile Phones:

Leveraging mobile phones as data sources facilitates quick and widespread information gathering, contributing to a more responsive food safety system.

Social Media:

Harnessing the power of social media platforms allows for rapid dissemination and collection of information related to food safety incidents and trends.

Smart Surveillance Systems:

Implementation of technologies like video monitoring enhances surveillance capabilities, ensuring a proactive approach to food safety.

Internet of Things (IoT) Technology:

Sensors and portable devices, interconnected through IoT, enable seamless data collection and analysis, enhancing the efficiency of food safety monitoring.

Geographic Information System (GIS) and Satellite Imagery:

Geographic data and satellite imagery contribute to a spatial understanding of potential risks, aiding in the proactive management of food safety concerns.

Blockchain Technology:

The implementation of blockchain technology ensures transparency and traceability in the food supply chain, bolstering confidence in the safety of consumed products.

In the ever-evolving landscape of food safety, technological advancements are proving to be indispensable, with supercomputing and cloud infrastructures emerging as key players. In the United States, the commitment to supercomputing is longstanding, exemplified by the formation of the US Exascale Computing Project (ECP) Industry Council in 2017. This initiative fosters collaboration between the ECP and the industrial user community, emphasizing the importance of information exchange in tackling Big Data challenges. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. has harnessed the power of supercomputing for research, fortifying its endeavors in ensuring food safety [2].

Across the Atlantic, the European Union (EU) places significant emphasis on supercomputing infrastructure development. With eight supercomputing centers strategically positioned, the EU supports applications ranging from bioengineering to weather forecasting and climate change, underlining a commitment to technological progress [2].

In China, a network of seven national supercomputing centers has been established, spanning cities such as Tianjin, Jinan, Changsha, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Wuxi, and Zhengzhou. The Chinese government has taken a bold step by creating a food safety traceability platform, connecting these supercomputing centers. This platform, collecting data from 31 provincial food traceability sources, aims to achieve comprehensive traceability from farm to plate. Its multifaceted services extend to supporting food production enterprises, ensuring food traceability, and enhancing security and supervision measures [2].

Shifting gears to cloud computing, a global wave of innovation is transforming the landscape of food safety research. The EU Food Nutrition Security Cloud project stands as a beacon, integrating European research infrastructure to address vital aspects like diet, health, consumer behavior, and sustainable agriculture. Meanwhile, the FDA’s Information Technology Strategic Plan, unveiled in 2015, marks a pivotal moment in modernizing technology infrastructure, aligning with the life sciences trends of 2020 [2].

China, too, has embraced the potential of cloud computing. In 2014, the Guzhou food and drug administration introduced the food safety cloud system, evolving into an intelligent food safety supervision system. This comprehensive system, inclusive of internet-enabled inspection, traceability certification, and a robust Big Data platform, serves government enterprises, inspection and testing institutions, and other social agencies.

As we journey through this era of technological innovation, the fusion of supercomputing and cloud infrastructures emerges as a driving force, reshaping the landscape of food safety and ensuring a more secure and transparent global food supply chain. As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of food safety in India, the synergistic integration of supercomputing and cloud infrastructures emerges as a beacon of progress. With a forward-looking approach, India is poised to embrace technological advancements that promise to reshape the very foundations of how we ensure the safety of our food supply.

In the coming years, we anticipate a strategic commitment to supercomputing, mirroring global efforts to tackle Big Data challenges. India’s potential endeavors in this domain hold the promise of fostering collaboration between industry stakeholders, akin to the US Exascale Computing Project’s Industry Council. This collaborative spirit, driven by a shared commitment to information exchange, will likely propel India to the forefront of technological innovation in food safety.

The global wave of innovation in cloud computing is not lost on India, and we foresee the nation making significant strides in this realm. The integration of cloud infrastructures is poised to redefine how we approach food safety research, mirroring the transformative impact witnessed in initiatives like the EU Food Nutrition Security Cloud project. As India aligns with these trends, the future promises a more interconnected and technologically advanced approach to safeguarding our food supply.

In parallel, we anticipate India taking bold steps in the realm of intelligent food safety systems. The creation of comprehensive traceability platforms, akin to China’s visionary efforts, could revolutionize how India ensures the quality and safety of its food products. This forward-thinking approach extends beyond supporting food production enterprises to encompass a holistic strategy for enhancing security, supervision, and consumer confidence.

As India journeys into the future, the fusion of supercomputing and cloud infrastructures is not just a technological leap; it is a commitment to ensuring a more secure, efficient, and transparent food supply chain for the nation. This dynamic integration heralds a future where India stands as a trailblazer in leveraging technology to fortify the well-being of its people and uphold the highest standards of food safety.

Author’s Bio

Kushagra Agrawal is a computer science scholar at School of Computer Engineering, KIIT Deemed to be University, Bhubaneswar, India

Linkedin : https://www.linkedin.com/in/kushagra-agrawal-51a3121ab/

Corresponding author email: kush4409@gmail.com

References

[1] H.P.J. Marvin, E.M. Janssen, Y. Bouzembrak, P.J. Hendriksen, M. Staats, “Big Data in food safety: An overview,” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, vol. 57, pp. 2286-2295, 2017.

[2] C. Jin, Y. Bouzembrak, J. Zhou, Q. Liang, L.M. van den Bulk, A. Gavai, N. Liu, L.J. van den Heuvel, W. Hoenderdaal, H.J.P. Marvin, “Big Data in food safety – A review,” Current Opinion in Food Science, vol. 36, pp. 24-32, 2020, [Online]. Available: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cofs.2020.11.006.

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