The very thought of my food being tracked after I have eaten it disturbs me. I have no problem with the food being tracked from picking to purchasing as it’s a good way to keep track of inventory and theft, but it should end the moment the consumer purchases the item.

NutriSmart from HannesRemote on Vimeo.

Hannes Harms – “embedding data in food” 2011
Royal College of Art,
Innovation Design Engineering

Tracking certain items for medical reasons is also a plausible use because it helps to keep track of exactly what is happening to a patient and can better help a medical professional to care for the patient. What will happen when a tag malfunctions and says that there are no allergens in a food and you eat it? Can your family sue because you relied on a tag to determine whether or not you should eat it?

Food, on the other hand, is not a practical use of RFID. There is no reason why the food couldn’t come with a small tag that tells you this information instead of a tag that is placed into your food that you must then consume.

Developed by Hannes Harms, a design engineering student at the Royal College of Art in London, these little markers would allow consumers to trace the entire supply chain behind every item in their cupboard, while feeding valuable nutritional information to dieters or people with particularly dangerous food allergies. Kodak, as you may recall, came up with a similar idea a few years ago, though Harms’ prototype extends beyond the realm of medical monitoring. Properly equipped refrigerators, for example, would be able to alert users whenever their stock’s about to expire, simply by scanning the tags. The NutriSmart concept also calls for a smart plate, which Harms describes as an “invisible diet management system.” Just put your meal on the plate and an embedded reader will analyze your grub, tell you how many miles it traveled before arriving at your kitchen and transmit all of its history and caloric data to your phone, via Bluetooth. No word yet on what would happen to these tags post-digestion, though our inner 13-year-olds are giggling at the possibilities.

If the food can keep track of what you’re eating and how much, it won’t take long for insurance companies to want the information. Next will be the advertising companies and the spammers, who will all want a little bit of your money. No government or company should be in the business of tracking what you eat.

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