HP gets into the food-safety business

You don’t usually think of Hewlett-Packard as a food business. But with food contamination growing as a public concern, HP this week announced a new cloud-based recall service that it’s hoping the food industry will adopt as it searches for ways to address the issue.

HP said Canada’s GS1, a non-profit trade group that works to improve supply chain efficiency, will use HP software, services and infrastructure to operate a system that tracks food products as they are manufactured and distributed to retailers.

The system is intended to let different companies use consistent technical standards to share information — which safety advocates say is often lacking during contamination scares — and to distribute specific recall instructions as needed.

IBM rolled out its own cloud-based approach to food “traceability” earlier this year, built around software developed at its South San Jose research lab. HP reportedly competed with IBM for the Canadian contract.

HP’s announcement didn’t draw as many headlines as some of the other food-safety news that broke this month, including reports that authorities had linked another salmonella outbreak to beef from a Fresno packing plant, and that Congress was debating a bill to give the U.S. Food & Drug Administration more inspection and enforcement power. But HP and IBM both see a big market for technology aimed at this issue.

 

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