IoT Security Blog

Articles and Posts on IoT Security, Embedded Systems, and the Internet of Things

Food Production and Safety

Contributed by Joanne C. Kelleher

The issue of food production and safety is continuing to get a lot of press.

The New York Times Sunday Magazine for 10/12/2008 is the Food Issue. http://www.nytimes.com/pages/magazine/index.html

I recommend you check out the lead story, Farmer in Chief, which provides recommendations on what the next president can and should do to remake the way we grow and eat our food. It was contributed by Michael Pollan, author of several books including In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, and Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at UC Berkeley.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is holding two public meetings about Product Tracing Systems for Fresh Produce and attendees can give brief oral presentations. Per the FDA, the purpose of the meetings is to stimulate and focus a discussion about mechanisms to enhance product tracing systems for fresh produce and to improve FDA’s ability to use the information in such systems to identify the source of contamination associated with fresh produce-related outbreaks of foodborne illness.

October 16 Meeting in College Park, MD
November 13 Meeting in Oakland, CA
http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~comm/regist10.html
http://www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/FDA-2008-N-0513-nmsave.pdf

RFID is one technology that can be used for food tracing. Last month’s RFID World conference featured a successful produce traceability case study administered by the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation. A couple of members of the RFID Security Alliance have signed up to speak at the FDA’s meeting in Oakland. Any product tracing solution that the FDA recommends, RFID or otherwise, should be securely designed based on the results of a threat model. Unfortunately, as Michael Pollen points out and we have seen with spinach, tomatoes, etc. in the past, there are many threats to the U.S. food system, and I would hate to see us adding another potential problem by implementing an unsecure traceability solution.