BASF has developed a tool for its customers in the food industry which affords detailed information on the composition of products and manufacturing methods, including levels of sustainability achieved in production.
Dr Christophe Gunther, who manages the project, said in a statement that the Sustainability, Eco-Efficiency, Traceability initiative (SET) allows: "food manufacturers to trace exactly which ingredients were used and which conditions applied in the manufacture of a product." In this way the system helps ensure food safety and quality control.
SET also allows customers to assess the degree to which products are manufactured in a sustainable manner. Facts and figures relating to environmental pollution for example, or CO2 emissions, are included. A spokesperson for the company told FoodProductionDaily.com that normally the information presented would represent figures for the entire manufacturing process, but if it seemed appropriate separate figures for each manufacturing stage would be provided.
SET is based on a system developed by BASF called Eco-Efficiency Analysis.
Eco-Efficiency Analysis assesses the life cycle of a product or a manufacturing process from start to finish. It aims to ensure that products are manufactured for economic gain but in as environmentally friendly a way as possible.
Similar products or processes are compared. The economic analysis and the overall environmental impact are used to make eco-efficiency comparisons and help detect and exploit potential ecological and economic improvements. Another analysis, SEEBALANCE, also takes into account the societal impact of products and processes.
Eco-Efficiency Analysis has been used for a range of BASF products.
Dr Gunther said that SET employs eco-efficiency methods: "to make sustainability tangible. The data generated in eco-efficiency analysis of our products are available to our customers from the feed and food industry as required."
He added: "In this manner we help our customers to meet consumers' growing expectations in terms of the sustainability and traceability of food products."
The SET data is available to customers via the Global Traceability Network (GTNet). This is a global platform used in the food industry for targeted sharing of product information material. GTNet enables companies to exchange product data with their trading partners.
A spokesperson for BASF confirmed that customers had been asking for greater product traceability and further information on product sustainability. SET is responding to these demands.
SET was first presented to the public at the Global Food Safety Conference in Amsterdam in February 2008 and is now available. It was developed by the BASF Nutrition Ingredients business unit, which supplies food ingredients such as vitamins, carotenoids and omega-3s.