New │ Establishing the National School Lunch Catering Cloud Service and Food Product Traceability System.
Impact │ Ensuring food safety for 2.4 million student lunches.
Key │ One Platform, One Set of Standards, Comprehensive Tracking and Promotion.
Evidence │ Introduced in 2014 to 3,388 elementary and middle school lunch catering programs from 22 municipalities nationwide, providing traceability management for 3,321 food product suppliers, or a total of 41,902 food items.
In recent years, multitudes of food safety incidents have erupted. From the use of plasticizers and modified starch, to problematic soy sauces, rice, and tainted cooking oils, all of which have caused massive consumer anxiety over the quality of their daily meals. For relevant government agencies, control over food safety is extremely difficult due to the fact that different parts of the food product supply chain are encompassed by different industries, while relevant rules and regulations are stipulated by different bureaus and offices. Rights and responsibilities of supervision are also divided among the many associated agencies, creating additional complexities to the food product identification and traceability processes.
To facilitate food safety control operations conducted by government agencies, the Institute of Information Industry (III) has established the "National School Lunch Catering Cloud Service," which provides tracking and management services for school lunch ingredients across the entire nation. In addition to the formulation of the "Good Traceability Practice" (GTP) to obtain comprehensive information from the food production chain, the food traceability mechanism, as well cloud virtualization and cloud database technologies are used in the creation of a cloud catering service platform. This is the first cloud-based solution ever to be designed exclusively for supervising the safety and quality of catering ingredients. Creating Platform, Establishing Standards
The key operation structure of the Catering Cloud Service Platform is to facilitate comprehensive ingredient traceability, and promote the use of "one single platform with one set of standards." This provides an opportunity for pushing the transition of all relevant national services and industries.
The single platform refers to the meal service platform that can be accessed by responsible agencies across all municipalities. Users only need to log in to access standardized core services. Each city or county may customize the meal plans for elementary and middle schools under their jurisdiction. They may even integrate with existing service systems by using the Open API. Lastly, government agencies and service providers can use the Open API to conduct value-added service development. Currently, Open API is mostly used for information exchange between government agencies, and has been made available to several well known service providers for trial applications. In the future, the system will be made more widely available to increase its range of applications and create greater value, as well as enable relevant industries to gain a better grasp on value-added food products. The objective of this system is to conduct food safety supervision services at the national level, and to enhance the efficiency of information circulation on food safety issues in schools.
Regarding the most complex matter of food safety standardization, With the support of the Board Of Science and Technology, Executive Yuan, the Department of Industrial Technology, Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Council of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare, III has established the GTP Standard Formulation and Promotion Team working closely with academic and administrative experts in conjunction with the Corporate Synergy Development Center. Standards established by European nations and Japan will serve as references for setting up the guidelines, information standards, and case studies necessary for the formulation of a domestic food product traceability system. This system will provide businesses from Taiwan's food product industry with unified standards for information exchange and compliance. III will continue to meet, visit, convene with, or seek advice from relevant groups and entities such as the China Grain Products Research & Development Institute, the Food Industry Research & Development Industry, Academia Sinica, and the Homemakers Union Foundation; its objective is to obtain information on food safety that will further serve as references for formulating safety standards. Comprehensive Traceability & Promotion
The Catering Cloud Service Platform enables both central and local government administrations to manage, trace, and circulate information regarding food products used in school lunches. This ensures adequate supervision of school lunch catering services at campuses under their supervision, so that in the event of food safety incidents, issues can be responded to and resolved in a timely manner, greatly reducing the scope of hazard or harm. For industry providers, uploaded data formats and procedures must always be in accordance with the platform standards, which are compatible with the information requirements stipulated by the Ministry of Education and local administrative offices. This integrated system ensures that enterprises abide by a consistent set of standards that regulate upstream to downstream internal production procedures, thereby facilitating autonomous quality control.
The service platform provides high quality ingredient tracing and customer service management. Local government administrations, relevant providers, as well as schools are continuously being recruited to join the program. Providers that submit catering data to the platform are given preferential advantages during public tendering, a gesture that is highly approved by both the central and local government administrations. Elementary and middle schools across all regions, as well as catering and information service providers are showing their willingness to participate in the program, which is why just after one year since the national service was initiated, it has already become one of the highlight programs within the nation.
By the end of 2014, 3,388 elementary and middle schools from 22 municipalities across the country are participating in the Catering Cloud Service, which now impacts the daily school meals of 2.4 million elementary and middle school students, as well as approximately 4.8 million parents. Participating national catering and information service providers has reached over 200; these providers use ingredients that can be traced back to 3,321 different suppliers, or a total of 41,902 food items. The service enables information management upgrades within the food product industry, as well as much more comprehensive data integration within the entire industry chain.
By working closely with government agencies, this service is to be introduced to a total of 1,651 kindergartens nationwide. As the service becomes more widely available, food safety within schools across the country is also increased dramatically. The experience, methodologies, as well as promotional strategies of this success story will be applied to other food categories in order to continue improving the quality and safety of our food products. Future Vision
As food safety hazards raise public concern, the Catering Cloud Platform ensures comprehensive ingredient tracing for all school lunches, providing schools, parents, and students with the confidence and assurance that their meals are always safe to eat!