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25 June 2020 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Supplied
Prof Arno Hugo recently participated in a session on food with integrity during a webinar by the Integra Trust, where he presented a lecture focusing on the importance of food traceability and the information communicated to the consumer.

In the complete process between farm and fork, consumers are looking for someone to hold accountable if their animal welfare, product quality, and product safety expectations are not met.

On World Sustainable Gastronomy Day earlier this month (18 June 2020), Prof Arno Hugo from the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology’s Food Science division at the University of the Free State (UFS) participated in a webinar by the Integra Trust, titled Heal the Land, Heal the People.

The Integra Trust was established to advance climate-smart sustainable and regenerative agriculture. It values the production, distribution, and utilisation of food with integrity in order to heal the land and the people.

Integra Trust strives to promote agriculture that has a limited footprint on the environment.

Prof Hugo’s lecture during the session on food with integrity, focused on the importance of the traceability of food and the information communicated to the consumer. 

Physical and emotional connectedness to farm and the producer
According to him, modern consumers want to know where their food comes from and want to be physically and emotionally connected to the farm and the producer. In the case of meat, for example, they want to know if the meat they buy is ethically produced and whether the animal was treated in a humane manner during the slaughter process. They also want a guarantee that the food they buy is free of harmful substances.

Prof Hugo states: “The consumer’s need for origin-based food is now playing out in a variety of ways, as food processors and retailers are labelling their products according to the origin of the product. One way of achieving this, is through a good traceability system.”

In his presentation, he focused on traceability from a meat industry perspective.

“Thus, in a good traceability system, a product on the store shelf can easily be traced back to the farmer and the farm where the food was originally produced. In modern traceability systems, it is even possible for the consumer to take the product in the store to a scanner that can read the ‘barcode’ and then showing a photo of the farmer and the name and location of the farm where it was produced,” explains Prof Hugo.

Food traceability important from food safety point of view
“Despite the consumer’s emotional need to connect with the farm and the producer, food traceability is also extremely important from a food security and food safety point of view,” he adds.

Although in its simplest form, it is a comprehensive process of keeping record of suppliers and customers in order to allow reconstruction of the product chain in case of need, it is doable. “In Europe, some 25 million cattle per year are now slaughtered with full traceability. The challenge of providing a secure form of identity through this process, is therefore a formidable one. This is achieved with the use of modern technologies such as Blockchain and DNA technology,” explains Prof Hugo. 

Joining him in the session on food with integrity were, among others, Errieda du Toit, chef, food writer, and culinary commentator (talking about perceptions in terms of difference between fast food and story food, asking if it is driven by social media) and Christiaan Campbell, chef and food consultant (talking about achieving synergy and communication between producer and consumer via the food value chain). Steven Barnard of Farmer Kidz presented a session focused on the younger generation, focusing on why it is important to connect children with food production.

News Archive

Teacher training key to democracy and freedom
2011-12-06

 

MEC Mr Tate Makgoe (left) with Faculty of Education’s Prof. Dennis Francis, holding the inaugural SURLEC Award. With them is Dr Dipane Hlalele.
Photo: Thabo Kessah

Universities have the responsibility to respond to the challenges that the South African education system is faced with.

This is the view of the Free State MEC for Education, Mr Tate Makgoe, during his address at the three-day First Sustainable Rural Learning Ecologies (SURLEC) Colloquium, which was recently held at the Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS).
 
“Our universities must not only research the failures of our system. They must also come up with solutions.
 
“One of the questions that demand answers in our country is whether we produce quality teachers at our universities, considering our learners’ performance internationally. Our children lack the basics like grammar and yet we are 17 years into democracy. Why is their performance so poor in comparison to children in poorer countries?” asked Mr Makgoe.
 
“We must work together as a Government and universities to change this. Universities must be anchors of democracy and freedom, which is meaningless if our children cannot read and write. We must also focus on Mathematics and Natural Sciences, not forgetting to value our indigenous knowledge and games to enhance learning, especially in Mathematics,” he said.
 
According to Dr Dipane Hlalele, Head of the Faculty of Education at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus, the colloquium was held to search for best practices and success stories relating to the theme, Creating sustainable rural learning ecologies in the 21st century.
 
“Our objective was to tap into experiences and wisdom of policy makers, researchers, scholars, teachers and students in order to map a new direction in research as well as to make an indelible mark on the revitalisation of this campus,” concluded Dr Hlalele.
 
The UFS Dean of Education, Prof. Dennis Francis’ efforts to improve rural education were honoured with the first ever SURLEC Award.
 
Over 70 research papers from the universities of the Free State, South Africa, Venda, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology were delivered and learners from the local schools like The Beacon, Mafube, Qwaqwa and Clubview presented their winning projects at the Science Expo.

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