The Guardian reported today that some restaurants are experimenting with edible QR codes on meals. Although this is interesting from a traceability perspective, it's probably more interesting as a means of connecting us consumers with the food that we eat and where it is sourced. Dole foods has been using barcodes on bananas for a number of years to link the consumer to the grower in an effort to better personalize the produce.
Wouldn't you feel a bit better about your next meal if you knew the farmer, their families and how they live? Maybe it's a bit of entertainment or novelty at first to be able to scan your sushi and learn about the Captain and crew of the ship that caught that blue fin tuna. Could be a fad ... could just be the latest experiment in our connected world (IOT?).
Even though it sounds like a bit of fun (and education), I wonder though, what the reaction would be if there was a food poisoning incident? Or, if we consumers of tasty meals and information, will eventually be curious about the entire trip through the supply chain that our meal took.
A few years ago we struggled to convince companies to standardize identification and definition of products in response to growing interest from regulatory and legislative bodies. A VP of a large pharmaceutical company said to me "forget about regulatory compliance, show me how this is going to make me one more sale and I'm in". Just to be clear, those weren't the words of a greedy pharmaceutical company, they came from a person that truly cared about patient safety, but found it near impossible to justify the added expense (to the tune of $100MM +) knowing that drug price is also a patient safety issue.
Maybe the food service industry has found the way to pay for traceability. The same information that can be used to entertain and connect with your customer (or patient) may also be used to trace back to the source of problems when they occur.