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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

UFS boasts with world class research apparatus
2005-10-20

 

 

At the launch of the diffractometer were from the left Prof Steve Basson (Chairperson:  Department of Chemistry at the UFS), Prof Jannie Swarts (Unit for Physical and Macro-molecular Chemistry at the UFS Department of Chemistry), Mr Pari Antalis (from the provider of the apparatus - Bruker SA), Prof Herman van Schalkwyk (Dean:  Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS), Prof André Roodt (head of the X-ray diffraction unit at the UFS Department of Chemistry) and Prof Teuns Verschoor (Vice-Rector:  Academic Operations at the UFS).

UFS boasts with world class research apparatus
The most advanced single crystal X-ray diffractometer in Africa has been installed in the Department of Chemistry at the University of the Free State (UFS).

“The diffractometer provides an indispensable technique to investigate compounds for medicinal application for example in breast, prostate and related bone cancer identification and therapy, currently synthesized in the Department of Chemistry.  It also includes the area of homogeneous catalysis where new compounds for industrial application are synthesised and characterised and whereby SASOL and even the international petrochemical industry could benefit, especially in the current climate of increased oil prices,” said Prof Andrè Roodt, head of the X-ray diffraction unit at the UFS Department of Chemistry.

The installation of the Bruker Kappa APEX II single crystal diffractometer is part of an innovative programme of the UFS management to continue its competitive research and extend it further internationally.

“The diffractometer is the first milestone of the research funding programme for the Department of Chemistry and we are proud to be the first university in Africa to boast with such advanced apparatus.  We are not standing back for any other university in the world and have already received requests for research agreements from universities such as the University of Cape Town,” said Prof Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean:  Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS.

The diffractometer is capable of accurately analysing molecules in crystalline form within a few hours and obtain the precise geometry – that on a sample only the size of a grain of sugar.   It simultaneously gives the exact distance between two atoms, accurate to less than fractions of a billionth of a millimetre.

“It allows us to investigate certain processes in Bloemfontein which has been impossible in the past. We now have a technique locally by which different steps in key chemical reactions can be evaluated much more reliable, even at temperatures as low as minus 170 degrees centigrade,” said Prof Roodt.

A few years ago these analyses would have taken days or even weeks. The Department of Chemistry now has the capability to investigate chemical compounds in Bloemfontein which previously had to be shipped to other, less sophisticate sites in the RSA or overseas (for example Sweden, Russia and Canada) at significant extra costs.

Media release
Issued by:Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:   (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
19 October 2005   

 

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