Project Food Quality: Assessing Product Quality Along The Global Food Supply Chain
Globalization is rapidly changing the metabolism between food and humanity. Food is harvested, processed, packed, and distributed all over the world, across continents, while the distance between the crops and farms and the consumer table increases. Transportation and storage are particularly critical for conservation of food products, which could experience several environmental stresses as thermal stresses, moisture, mechanical shocks and vibrations. These stresses are particularly critical for food and affect its safety and quality, rather than the organoleptical characteristics or the product shelf-life.
To face this problem, the food supply chain center of University of Bologna, joins together with a team of international research centers as the Georgia Institute of Technology, the San Francisco State University, Universidad Catolica de Chile, Csiro, and Universidad De Cuyo Argentina, to develop a tracking and monitoring protocol based on sensors and blackboxes to study and analyze the impact of logistics in food supply chains.
The protocol results in monitoring the distribution phases of different products and supply chains from farm, of the vendor facility, to the consumer fork. From wine to edible oil, from
pasta and cous cous to chocolate, from cheese to fruit and vegetable.
Once the product reach its destination, the sensor is sent back to our laboratories to tell the entire distribution and transport profile experienced by the products.
These profiles are imported in our laboratories to drive the transport simulation through properly developed and controlled climate rooms, able to reproduce hour per hours the same temperature, humidity and mechanical stresses experienced by food during the real shipment.
The simulation enables the analyses of the impact that the distribution phase have on the food quality, and assessing improvements of the supply chain operations and decisions, as best performing packaging, or better shipping solutions.
The following VIDEO illustrates the Food Quality Assessment laboratory activities daily conducted by the Food Supply Chain center.
The following graph exemplifies a temperature profile collected during the monitoring process of an intercontinental shipment of virgin olive oil and wine from Italy to China.