In partnership with the Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation, Pinduoduo (PDD) has developed a new method of food-testing will provide policing of the food supply chain for better food quality.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, food security and the interconnected nature of the global food supply chain has become a top priority of governments worldwide. Announced in November 2020, Pinduoduo (PDD) collaborated with the Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI) under the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR) to develop a more cost-effective test for contaminants like pesticides.
“Safeguarding the integrity of the global food supply chain is critical for a country like Singapore, which imports 90 percent of its food from 170 countries,” said Lim Xin Yi, Executive Director of Sustainability and Agricultural Impact, Pinduoduo. “Partnering with SIFBI to develop more portable, cost-effective and quicker food-testing technology, our goal is for consumers to have more peace of mind and greater confidence in what lands on their dinner plates.” She added.
The diversity of a worldwide food network that is able to supply food from a number of different countries; chicken from Brazil and vegetables from China, however this makes the job of policing it much tougher. The current practice of ensuring food safety is to batch-test the food before they are sold to consumers. Many authorities adopt a risk-based approach, subjecting higher-risk categories of food, such as imported fruits and vegetables, to more scrutiny. As the food supply chain becomes increasingly complex, the mode of testing must also adapt to cover more points of vulnerability while keeping up with mounting volumes moving through a growing number of channels.
Innovation in the process of food testing and distribution across various points of the supply chain, allows the strengthening of the food system by saving time, reducing product recalls, and increasing consumer and regulator confidence. Making testing more widespread and results available faster, enforcement becomes stronger and bad actors can be weeded out more quickly, thereby gradually improving the quality of what reaches consumers.
This devolved approach requires investments in developing more portable, cost-effective and quicker food-testing technology. The current industry gold standard is to use liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), which involves expensive machinery and can take up to a few days to yield results.
Through the collaboration between PDD and SIFBI, the technology developed could be between three to 20 times lower in cost than the LC-MS method. The ultimate benefit goes beyond just the savings on detection instruments. Rather, the time saved in assessment and greater ease of conducting such tests will have positive knock-on effects by strengthening enforcement significantly and increasing the overall resilience of food systems.
Not only does more stringent testing benefit consumers, it can also benefit countries that are food exporters. Addressing the problem of contaminants at its source can reduce the economic losses suffered by food exporters due to food exports failing to meet safety standards. [APBN]