Tracking Technology Ensures Food Safety

By Bob Violino

Earthbound Farm Organic in San Juan Bautista, Calif., is one of the nation’s leading organic food suppliers. The company offers more than 100 varieties of certified organic salads, fruits and vegetables grown on nearly 40,000 acres by about 200 farmers.

“At Earthbound, we care about our consumers, and we strive to provide them with the highest quality food available,” says CEO Charlie Sweat. Since food safety is one of the company’s top priorities, Earthbound recently deployed tracking technology that traces the entire life cycle of a product, from inception to ingestion, through serialized data.

The company looked into several different technology solutions, but none seemed to have exactly what Earthbound Farm needed. “We wanted to find a company that cares as much about quality and safety as we do,” Sweat says. “Our endeavor to ensure the quality of our products and the well-being of our consumers is what drove us to implement Frequentz’ track-and-trace technology, which allows us to ensure that our products are of the highest quality and integrity.”

Earthbound first deployed an earlier version of Frequentz (PTI), and then moved to a much broader product that consists of Frequentz’ track-and-trace solution integrated with IBM’s InfoSphere Traceability Server (ITS), which Frequentz acquired in 2012.

Earthbound is one of the first users of the combined solution, called Information Repository & Intelligence Server (IRIS). It allows organizations to gain insight into product movement by understanding where components come from, how a product was built, where it was sold and how it was used.

IRIS supports device management, data capture applications, Electronic Product Code Information Service (EPCIS) storage and data sharing, and pedigree compliance through multiple regulatory compliance models. It also enables rapid development of custom applications and flexible deployment models.

Earthbound Farm uses the technology to track its food supply and help it pinpoint where damaged goods might be going to or coming from in the event of a recall. This not only helps to save lives, but it also minimizes the impact of a food recall on grocers, farmers, suppliers and Earthbound itself.

“We have experienced many benefits from this technology,” Sweat says. “We are saving both time and money, and our productivity has increased.” Even more important, the information the company receives regarding its food products’ manufacturing is more accurate than it ever was previously, he adds.

Earthbound farms plans to continue implementing this track-and-trace technology on all its products in order to guarantee their integrity and quality, Sweat says.