Only managed to trace half
Nofima managed to trace just over half of 30 food products back to their origins.
Where does the food actually come from? The food scandals in Europe in recent years has put traceability on the EU’s agenda, but the way from the farm, fish farm or fishing boat to the supermarket can be long.
Nofima has studied whether it is possible to trace food products back to the farm, fish farm or fishing boat in Norway.
Thirty different food products were purchased in different shops in Oslo, Trondheim and Tromsø, and Nofima scientists then tried to trace them back to their origins.
They succeeded in tracing 16 of the 30 products back to the farm, fish farm or fishing boat. Nine products could not be traced.
The scientists tried to trace dairy products, meat, fish, grain, fruit and vegetables.
"It varies greatly whether it is possible to find the origins of food products sold in Norwegian shops," says Nofima Scientist Kine Mari Karlsen.
The best result was achieved with dairy products, of which 83 percent could be traced back to the farm.
Red meat and fish followed next with 67 percent able to be traced back to their origins. Half of the fruit and vegetables were able to be traced back to their origins, but grain emerged worst with none of the products able to be traced back to their origins.
The study also shows that the number of possible suppliers of the raw material is very high for many of the foods. One such example was the the raw milk in the pot of sour cream, which could originate from one of around 1160 different deliveries from farms.
"In this study, wholesalers were the link that was hardest to trace through," says Nofima Scientist Kathryn Donnelly.
Nofima’s study was commissioned by the Norwegian Electronic Traceability Project (eSporing), which is a joint project between the authorities and the food industry in Norway.
The objective of this project is to develop an electronic system that makes it possible to follow the information about food products the entire way from their origin to the consumer.