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Thailand ensures food safety with smart sensors

Posted: 06 Apr 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:sensor? Thailand agriculture system? software? RFID?

IBM and FXA Group entered a strategic collaboration with Thailand's Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) and the Communications Authority of Thailand to enable farmers, exporters and retailers to improve global food safety by making Thailand's agricultural products traceable from farms to store shelves.

Thailand's Ministry of Agriculture is launching an initiative that will use smart sensor technology and traceability software from IBM and IBM business partner, FXA, to enable all participants in the food supply chain farmers, distributors and retailers, to access critical information on agricultural exports including the farm of origin, date of harvest, temperature during shipping and more. This will enable the country to help ensure the freshness of food exported from Thailand upon its arrival in global markets and in turn, create a safer food supply chain for consumers.

To start off the project, the MPAC will work closely with IBM and FXA to help approximately 600 food producers and exporters of chicken, seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables begin using IBM and FXA's traceability solutions on all their exports.

Smart food supply chain
Using food traceability technology that has been put in place by FXA, Thailand's agricultural producers can collect all relevant information about each batch of food produced in the country. With IBM's sensor and traceability software, Thailand's Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is expanding on the system FXA provides by adding a layer of open technology that enables growers and producers to use unique serial numbers stored on sensors or barcodes and share important product information beyond their four walls. Using IBM's software, all the critical information captured on each food product can be securely accessed by all trading partners within the food supply chain that need it. IBM technology adheres to GS1 EPCglobal's EPCIS standard for information sharing, which means that any trading partner using an EPCIS-compliant system can use the system and access all key information on the product.

With this project, Thailand becomes the first country to adopt the EPCIS standard for food traceability. This is a significant step in ensuring the safety of consumers around the globe, because there is no quick or easy way for retailers and governments to determine where a contaminated product came from. As a result of the use of IBM's technology, if a consumer gets sick, retailers and authorities can immediately pinpoint the exact farm on which the tainted food was grown and quickly arrange a targeted recall to minimize the number of people affected.

"As one of the world's largest producers and exporters of agricultural products, we must continue to improve our food safety standards to meet, or even exceed the global market's requirement," said Theera Wongsamut, Thailand's Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives. "We are very much interested in using smart solutions that will provide our agricultural exporters the ability to ensure that every process involving their products is transparent for importers and consumers alike. We are strongly confident that the system will enhance and increase our exporters' competitiveness in the international food industry," he said.

Using effective food traceability technology, Thailand's agricultural producers can collect all relevant information about each batch of agricultural and meat products produced in the country, including which farm it came from, where it was processed and its current location and temperature.

The solution FXA and IBM are deploying includes FXA's OpsSmart food safety solution and IBM's InfoSphere Traceability Server software. Both companies technologies can be used with a wide range data capture technologies such as linear barcodes, 2D barcodes and RFID systems.

"IBM's technologies will help drive efficiency and competitiveness for Thailand's food exporters," said Thanwa Laohasiriwong, country general manager, IBM Thailand Co. Ltd. "Together with FXA, we will draw on our advanced technology and global expertise to make Thailand's food exports system work smarter and to reinforce the country's status as the 'world's kitchen'."

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