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2003: Food detectives

In the winter of 2006, an E. coli scandal hit Norway like a bombshell. Tracing the food-borne infection took a long time. Food that carried an identification number would have made the job easier.

Chief scientist Jostein Storøy has played a central role in SINTEF’s work on food-tracking technology. Photo: SINTEF/Geir Mogen

In the midst of  the E. coli crisis, the media could report that there was one bright spot in the situation: SINTEF and Fiskeriforskning (now, Nofima) were working on technology that would simplify the task of tracing future infections.

Value chain and process history

Tracing involves working backwards to find out where a particular batch of food has come from, link for link in the value chain, and being able to find information about the processing history of the end-product.

SINTEF and Nofima were behind the launch of a groundbreaking European Union project that in 2003 resulted in “TraceFish” – the world’s first standard for tracing cultivated and wild-caught fish (CEN CWA 14659 and 14660).

A tool for all types of food

At the beginning of 2011, TraceFish was submitted to the international standardisation process, and the standard will soon be given ISO status.

Through its participation in the major integrated European Union project “Trace”, for the past five years SINTEF has been leading the development of “TraceFood Framework”, a toolbox for building tracing systems for all types of food. All information about this programme can be found on the TraceFood Wiki , which is under continuous development (

CO2 footprint

In 2011 SINTEF was also working on a demonstration of how tracing systems can be used to document the CO2 footprint of individual foodstuffs.

Once well-structured tracing data are in place, companies will be better able to optimise their production, warehoused products and logistics.

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