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FDA Recognizes Wiliot and Partners for Food Traceability Solutions

September 24, 2021
FDA Recognizes Wiliot and Partners for Food Traceability Solutions
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FDA Recognizes Wiliot and Partners for Food Traceability Solutions

The impact of foodborne illness is staggering. The CDC reports that each year, 48 million people – or 1 in 6 fall ill. That results in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

One immediate mechanism for reducing that burden is to improve our food traceability capabilities. There is no doubt that innovations in real-time traceability and data access can create a safer, more sustainable world.

At the heart of traceability is the ability to track, monitor, and understand exactly how food moves from source to table—and in what condition – every step of the way. The quicker we can zero in and precisely localize health risks, the more immediately we can generate responsive, hyper-local recalls that protect relevant populations without over-targeting, creating both fear and overall waste in the food system.

Government bodies recognize the imperative of food traceability, which is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently launched the “New Era of Smarter Food Safety" Low- or No-Cost Tech-Enabled Traceability Challenge.

The FDA challenged the industry to meet a number of goals, including the achievement of seamless traceability at no cost to the consumer, thus creating an intelligent food supply chain that works autonomously.

The competition's name may be a mouthful, but this isn't: Wiliot and its partners Roambee and GSM were recognized as winners of the FDA’s traceability challenge.

From 90 participants worldwide, the FDA recognized 12 winners for innovations - integrating hardware, software, and analytics - that achieve end-to-end food traceability at virtually no cost to the end-user.

As part of the team’s winning entry, Wiliot's IoT Pixels, affixed to food packaging, containers, or shipping crates, could be read by Roambee devices, integrated by GSM to communicate real-time data about food in transit. Wiliot IoT Pixels are tiny, self-powered compute devices that can either be attached to products as stickers – integrated during the manufacturing process - and communicate via Bluetooth.

Because the data from IoT Pixels is collected in the Wiliot Cloud for tracking and analysis, participants in food supply chains can understand where food is located at any given point in its journey from source to table. The breadth and depth of Wiliot data also includes whether it's being transported at the correct temperature or the right humidity. When these ambient conditions fall out of range, the risk of spoilage and foodborne illness increases.

Beyond food safety risks, the planet faces another challenge: up to 40 percent of food never makes it to consumers' tables. The Washington Post wrote that “The carbon footprint of U.S. food waste is greater than that of the airline industry. Globally, wasted food accounts for about 8 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

We can solve the problem, which is fundamentally attributable to a lack of data. That includes information about food getting lost, or improper storage, or rotting in warehouses because it isn’t shipped out in time. Often it gets tossed at the retail level because it is over-inventoried and the supply chain lacks the intelligence to recognize this. Wiliot’s transformation of the supply chain to the “demand chain” fixes that, and results in both fresher, healthier food on shelves and tables, and more economic value to the industry.

The FDA wants to “encourage firms to voluntarily adopt tracing technologies and harmonize tracing activities, working toward outcomes that are achievable for all sectors.” Recognition of next-generation IoT technology by the world’s leading food safety agency is a significant milestone in enabling the type of traceability that can change our world for the better. We are proud to have earned the agency’s recognition.