The current horsemeat scandal could have been avoided if a system developed by the University of Wolverhampton to trace food was in use, according to experts.
The University, alongside eight partners across Europe, have recently completed the Farm to Fork research project.
This was a pilot 3.6m euro project which developed and utilised a range of technologies, including Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to identify and trace food information across Europe from producer to consumer.
The system works by identifying individual items of food and tracking precisely what happens to them during the production process.
RFID and other technologies (such as bar codes) identify the item and allow its location and the process it is undertaken to be determined. Sensor networks allow environmental factors such as temperature and humidity to be tracked. The records are stored in a secure database from which the history of individual items can be generated. They are packaged and labelled with a QR or other code which identifies the individual item.
When the product reaches shops, consumers can scan the code with a smartphone, tablet or in-store scanner and the system generates a web page in real time, which gives detailed information such as where it originated from, where it was processed, packed and stored, how it was transported and at what temperature and how many miles its travelled.