Food Safety and Traceability

Food safety is an important issues in today’s overpopulated global market. Key global food safety concerns include: the spread of hazardous bacteria, chemical food contaminants, new food technologies assessments, and building strong food safety systems to ensure a safe global food chain. Though regulatory demands are key to food safety, there are also strong business reasons for adopting ever more stringent food safety procedures. Corporate responsibility is a key issue for businesses, as is the protection of shareholder value. A solid food safety record will become a valuable asset in the future and has potential to reverse consumers’ faltering trust in business and government. An international traceability system can be the solution to differing national standards of food regulation.

The most important factor driving the implementation of food safety and traceability for food manufacturers is international legislation. Any food business must first and foremost comply with its national requirements of food safety and hygiene law. However there are also strong external pressures to exceed the standards set out in legislation. Chief among these are the demands of customers, especially the large retail chains, which are pressing for coordination among third party certification schemes.[i] We need to take the impetus off consumers’ responsibility for monitoring food safety and put it on international regulatory commisions like the World Health Organization.

Read More Here!

[i] Lawley, Richard. Food Safety and Traceability Strategies Key Hazards, Risks and Technological Developments. Rep. Business Insights, 2010. Web. 11 Apr. 2013. p 66. <;.



Cry Me a River

Fuck, this post goes against everything I stand for. I don’t know where I am going to be in 10 years, or 5 years, or even next year. I DON’T WANT TO KNOW EITHER. I don’t want to think about life goals and accomplishments. My goal is to go with the flow, be spontaneous, and take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way and sounds interesting. Hence why I CURRENTLY HAVE SIX DIFFERENT JOBS/INTERNSHIPS while finishing this semester. Am I crazy? ABSOLUTELY. Do I love what I am doing? ABSOLUTELY. Do I have any idea where it will get me in 10 years? HELL NO.

One of my bosses that I have worked for on campus the last two years recently told me one of my best qualities is that I’m unpredictable and always on the go. She even said that she has no idea where I could possibly end up in just 5 years; something she can picture for just about all the students she interacts with. And she’s right! Cookie-cutter careers and lives don’t fit on me; I blaze my own trail!

I would love to go to a fortune teller or psychic to hear what they might say about my future and just laugh at the possibilities, but where’s the fun in actually knowing the future? That would take the adventure out of life. I can see myself having about 20 different jobs that diverge and converge in some general direction, forming the sort of career path that looks like this braided river system:

My Path ~ Braided River

I’ll probably be in some kind of sports/entertainment/events/management career in my early thirties, married at least once, chasing a couple of kids involved in a thousand activities like I always have been, and living in my sixth or seventh state or province (Canada would be nice). I’ll probably still be reffing hockey, seeing as that’s about the most consistent thing in my life thus far (going on seven years!) and still have an extremely short attention span and a love for country music and hatred for technology dependence.

Foggy River at Sunrise

Even though my future is about as clear as a river in the early
morning, I can tell you for sure what I won’t be doing in 10 years:

1. Rowing competitively

2. Regularly working 9-5

3. Living at home

4. Acting like I’m still in college

5. Doing anything creative

Imagination was never my strong suit. I learn the rules of the game and play them unconventionally well, but I’m not about to make up my own. I’ll find my own way to “success” and I’ll be happier than you. Guaranteed.

A Queer Query

As a Women and Gender Studies minor, I have taken my fair share of around topics of inequality, privilege, discrimination, and intersectionality of race, class, gender, age, etc. The biggest problem that I have seen through my current class, Queer Studies, is the normative social structures we have institutionalized. A norm is “a principle of right action binding upon the members of a group and serving to guide, control, or regulate proper and acceptable behavior.” Many people are not even aware of these assumed norms; it takes a queer perspective, that is, taking a position that distances itself from the accepted norm, to realize the implications of this normative behavior. As we move towards a more progressive and accepting society, we need to educate our nation from a young age how to think about people and break down the existence of these norms:

1. Sex (male/female) should not be assumed by presentation of gender (feminine/masculine qualities).

2. Sex, gender, and sexuality are not binary categories, but each exist on a spectrum.

3. Heterosexuality should not be assumed until otherwise disclosed.

4. Discrimination based on sex, gender, or sexuality is ALWAYS wrong and should not be tolerated whatsoever in the workplace, schools, public use areas, or ANYWHERE.

5. Public bathrooms need to be private spaces that everyone and anyone should be comfortable using without conforming a binary category/label.

6. Displays of love, affection, and romantic interests do not fall within governmental or religious regulation. I call for a separation of state and church from love.

Blue Ribbon Winner: IKEA


“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” The latest “big story” plasters across newspaper headlines and internet homepages on a daily basis. The media loves to deliver a good scandal, and the public becomes engrossed in every detail. The nature of the scandal and the danger it produces dictate the reaction and outrage; media and consumers vehemently distress over news of food safety issues. The USDA issued over sixty-three nation-wide food recalls in the year 2009, which appears to be about an average number of yearly recalls in the last decade[i] (Figure 1). In the early months of 2013, international companies, such as IKEA, issued several food recalls as DNA tests detected horsemeat in beef and pork products, and high levels of bacteria normally found in feces, in select desserts. Although safety officials and retailers issue these food recalls, the contamination and mislabeling usually occurs elsewhere within the supply chain. Retailers, suppliers, regulators, and consumers each have duties and responsibilities to each other to ensure quality control and safety of food products.

Furniture to Food

Ingvar Kamprad founded IKEA as revolutionary company in Sweden in 1943 on the basis of meeting needs at reduced prices. Original products sold include pens, wallets, picture frames, table runners, watches, jewelry, and nylon stockings. IKEA introduced furniture in 1948 and the line grew through the 1950s as showrooms and IKEA stores opened throughout Sweden. The first IKEA Restaurant opened in 1960 and accompanied the growth of IKEA stores worldwide. Today, IKEA Restaurants play an essential role in welcoming customers into IKEA stores and providing a relaxing atmosphere with a budget-friendly menu. The Swedish food market within IKEA stores provides customers with the opportunity to prepare pre-packaged foods from frozen meatballs to coffee, in their own homes.

Not Horsing Around

On January 15, 2013, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) announced that it found horse DNA in beef products sold in Ireland and the UK. Major retailers pulled product from the suppliers named in investigation from their shelves and the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) stated, “In addition to the widespread testing we are doing, we’ve instructed the industry to urgently carry out its own tests on processed beef products to see whether horsemeat is present.”[ii] The Swedish National Food Agency set out to perform DNA testing across Sweden to crack down on suspected mislabeling of horsemeat,[iii] but it was Czech Republic authorities that first detected horsemeat in IKEA’s frozen meatballs produced by the Swedish company, Familjen Dafgard. IKEA withdrew the meatballs from the affected markets across Europe at the end of February, just two weeks after the company’s own tests did not detect horse DNA.[iv]

According to a press release addressing the horsemeat adulteration, “IKEA Group is committed to serving and selling high quality food that is safe, healthy and produced with care for the environment. ‘The trust of our customers is of outmost importance for us’, says Anders Lennartsson, IKEA Food Services AB. ‘We do not tolerate any other ingredients than the ones stipulated in our recipes or product specifications’.”[v] IKEA reissued this statement a few weeks later when high levels of coliform bacteria were found in a shipment of Almond chocolate and butterscotch cakes to China. In answering concerns about this instance of contamination, IKEA proclaimed, “All tests show that our cakes live up to the highest safety and quality standards. There are no harmful bacteria found in any of the tests, including cakes from the batch that was destroyed by Chinese customs” over and over again.[vi] At the end of March, Belgian authorities found pork present in IKEA’s elk lasagna; the company issued a sales stop and offered a refund for the mislabeled product. Though this adulteration did not pose any health risks, IKEA has taken a position that does not tolerate “any other ingredients than the ones stipulated in our recipes or specifications” in its food products.[vii]

Ethical Supply Chain Management

The series of food adulteration, contamination, and mislabeling issues sparked public scrutiny of suppliers in the food industry. In the wake of past mad cow disease outbreaks, European nations implemented stringent labeling regulations on fresh meat. “Since 2011, labels on unprocessed beef sold in Europe have been required to identify where a cow was born, raised and slaughtered; most countries now want this requirement extended to processed beef.”[viii] This is the only mandatory traceability system currently enforced throughout a complete food chain; traceability of all other foods is essentially voluntary and not well regulated, though a few countries have introduced broad requirements.[ix] Companies have wide latitude in making ethical decisions regarding food supply issues and the complexity of these supply chains leaves opportunities for unscrupulous activity.

IKEA revolutionized supply chain management in the furniture industry with its flat-pack business model. The company realized the savings that flat-pack shipping provided over traditional furniture manufacturing methods and built its warehouse stores around that concept.

IKEA also passes along savings to customers by substituting wood composite materials for true wood and other higher cost materials, whenever possible. From a deontological perspective, if substituting lower cost goods for higher cost goods in order to save the consumer money is a universal maxim, then the horsemeat adulteration cases are actually ethical. On the other hand, suppliers purposely deceiving downstream companies like IKEA are in violation of Kant’s “respect for persons” principle.[x] If mislabeling meat content was adopted as a universal maxim, the categories of meat types would break down, and all meat would become “mystery meat” as a result of unethical practices. “The trust of our customers and co-workers is of utmost importance to us. In light of the horsemeat concerns in the food industry, it is clear that IKEA Group, despite high standards, has failed to live up to our customers’ expectations. We take this very seriously and are now making changes to further strengthening traceability throughout the entire food value chain”, says Edward Mohr, Global IKEA Food Manager.[xi] In response to the contamination issues IKEA has faced, the company seeks to bring the complexities of the food supply chain more in line with its vertically integrated furniture supply chain:

As an immediate measure, we have, together with a quality assurance company (SGS), developed a set of requirements for minced meat products. These requirements include;
• Limited number of suppliers of meat.
• Traceability back to the abattoirs.
• No meat purchased through traders.
• DNA analyses are made on both incoming raw material and on the final product. Only products showing no traces of horsemeat DNA are shipped to IKEA stores.
The requirements are valid for all minced meat products, global as well as local.
We are also developing a comprehensive standard with requirements on traceability, slaughter, deboning and processing of meat products. The standard is developed together with a quality assurance company, SGS, and is expected to be ready before the end of April 2013. The standard will be implemented during the next six months. Announced and unannounced audits together with tests and documentation will secure compliance. Our goal is traceability all the way back to the farms.[xii]

These actions can be seen as having “purity of motive” Bowie discusses, as IKEA wishes to eliminate risk to consumers and regain their trust through more stringent regulation. Rather than continue to use the lowest cost suppliers with a strict focus on the bottom line, IKEA can actually enhance its profits by simplifying and/or vertically integrating its supply chain and respecting the humanity of all of its stakeholders.

To further demonstrate IKEA’s ethical standards of supply chain management, consider the company’s focus on sustainability. The flat-pack shipping method allows more goods to be shipped in fewer trips, and the minimalist design means less material is used in fabrication, resulting in lower emissions and transportation costs. “The entire IKEA process aims at creating products that leave minimum impact on the environment,” including the company’s signature recycled honeycomb panel design.[xiii] In regard to the horsemeat scandal and recovering the recalled product referenced in Figure 1, IKEA is trying to “find a sustainable solution for the sales stopped meatballs that may contain horsemeat. There is no health risk associated with eating the meatballs. We are in dialogue with the relevant authorities to explore possibilities to take care of the sales stopped meatballs in a responsible way, in accordance with legal demands…. Landfill is not an option.”[xiv] IKEA was able to come out of this controversy with its reputation intact due to transparent addressing of ethical issues with suppliers and consumers, and a plan to improve food safety in the future.

Figure 1
Figure 1

[i] “Taking Harmful Foods Off the Shelf.” MCT Graphic Services. 2010. Global Issues In Context. Web. 8 Apr. 2013.

[ii] Food Standards Agency. FSA Statement on Horse Meat InvestigationFood Standards Agency. N.p., 8 Feb. 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2013. <;.

[iii] “Sweden to DNA Test Meat Products Nationwide.” The Local: Sweden Edition. N.p., 12 Feb. 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2013. <;.

[iv] Higgins, Andrew, and Stephen Castle. “Ikea Recalls Meatballs After Detection Of Horse Meat.” New York Times 26 Feb. 2013: A4(L). Global Issues In Context. Web. 8 Apr. 2013.

[v] IKEA. IKEA Stores Resume Sales of Wiener SausagesIKEA. N.p., 6 Mar. 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2013. <;.

[vi] IKEA. Bacteria in IKEA Almond Cake: Products Not Sold the UK and Ireland Stores. IKEA. N.p., 22 Mar. 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2013. <;.

[vii] IKEA. Statement regarding Recent Media Coverage on Our Elk LasagneIKEA. N.p., 6 Apr. 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2013. <;.

[viii] Higgins, Andrew, and Stephen Castle. “Ikea Recalls Meatballs After Detection Of Horse Meat.” New York Times 26 Feb. 2013: A4(L). Global Issues In Context. Web. 8 Apr. 2013.

[ix] A. Regattieri, M. Gamberi, R. Manzini, Traceability of food products: General framework and experimental evidence, Journal of Food Engineering, Volume 81, Issue 2, July 2007, Pages 347-356. <;

[x] Frederick, Robert, ed. A companion to business ethics. Vol. 17. Wiley-Blackwell, 2008.

[xi] IKEA. Sales Start of Newly Produced MeatballsIKEA. N.p., 23 Mar. 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2013. <;.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] VanGilder, Suzanne. “Manufacturing IKEA Style.” Surface & Panel. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2013. <;.

[xiv] IKEA. Sales Start of Newly Produced MeatballsIKEA. N.p., 23 Mar. 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2013. <;.

Carry on after Carrion?

The very first thing that popped into my head after reading this prompt is the computer software Carrion from ABC’s show Revenge. One of the main characters, Nolan Ross, is a computer programmer and hacker extraordinaire. He created this Carrion software years before the show takes place, but left the coding of the sole copy of the program that exists incomplete in case it fell into the wrong hands. The show doesn’t explicitly say what the software does, but Nolan mentioned it is capable of turning off the entire Manhattan power grid in a micro-second and used it to partially hack the Grayson’s bank account. So basically, my “internet apocalypse” is imagining what will happen in the show if and when the Carrion program is deployed for evil, which will probably happen in the season finale.

Let’s think about what would happen if the entire Manhattan power grid was intentionally shut down suddenly with no ability to recover it for a long period of time?

1. The Earth’s energy consumption would plummet.

2. Manhattan would be dark. Chaos would ensue without traffic lights or lighted tunnels.

3. Millions, if not billions, of dollars in retail business would be lost.

4. Wall Street would cease trading, and banks all over the world would probably lose a lot of money as well.

5. National television networks would probably be down.

6. Security and safety of people and their accounts would be at high risk and vulnerable to attack. Theft and crime would be rampant.

7. People would have to walk hundreds of flights of stairs to reach the top floors of buildings and probably die.

Any other ideas of what would happen or what the Initiative might be planning to do with Carrion?

Teaching for a sustainable future

Although the session about curriculum would not have been my first choice to attend during the Sustainability Seminar, it was the only one that fit in my schedule on short notice. Four professors spoke about their respective sustainability-focused courses and programs, then sat for a brief question and answer panel.

I’m not going to go over what was said by each since there are already half a dozen posts like that, but realize that sustainability is not just about the environment and natural resources. The gist of the Engineering department sustainability curriculum was to develop courses for engineers but include all students, not labelled engineering, and provide necessary perspectives for engineers designing sustainable technologies and techniques. The new sustainability-focused Management major is about managing limited resources to carry out an organization’s mission in an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable method. The Bucknell in Nicaragua program is focused on social sustainability of communities and adaptation to external and internal pressures. The interdisciplinary integrative perspectives courses, wrestle with issues, combine content, model interdisciplinary collaboration through co-teaching by professors in different disciplines that inspire new perspectives on how to deal with global questions with local ramifications.

I think sustainability is a very important topic for all students to cover as our world is more crowded than ever and natural resources are becoming scarce. The global market requires sustainable thinking and planning to continue, as we have talked about the need to develop long-term benefits rather than short term rewards thinking.