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Where's the (Hacked) Beef? Techies and Foodies Partner to Solve Meat Industry Issues


Last week, a tech industry "hackathon" called Hack//Meat worked on a collaborative piece of software designed to improve some of the challenges the meat industry currently faces, reports Grist.

The 48-hour hackathon included software developers along with entrepreneurs and food movement leaders, who worked together in the third Food+Tech Connect event, sponsored by the GRACE Communication Foundation and the Applegate company. According to the website, "Over the course of the weekend, “steakholders” will work with teams to rapidly prototype innovative solutions to business or consumer education challenges in the way meat is produced, processed, distributed, sold and consumed."

Food and Water Watch and the Consumers Union were two of the nonprofits involved in the event, which included a series of challenges that pertained to some of the more common issues in the meat industry including the use of antibiotics and other drugs common in conventional animal raising, slaughter methods, distribution models and the product labels.

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According to Grist, the winning idea went to Carv, “an internet-enabled scale and label printer that captures and manages data about individual cuts of meat, which can be converted into reports and invoices for anyone in the value chain, including USDA and FSIS [Food Safety Inspection Service]," which could be a valuable tool in the industry.

Carv could become a reality implemented in the near future by small local producers scaling up with economically sustainable models, which could create more transparency between farmers, processors and the end consumer.

One of the judges, Paul Matteucci, a Silicon Valley-based investor and the founder of Feeding 10 Billion, a nonprofit to help food system entrepreneurs, told Grist that while virtually impossible currently, being able to track animals from their start to finish in the food system means a potentially large decrease in waste and quicker turnaround time in mitigating foodborne illness outbreaks, “We’ve all read stories about how one hamburger may contain the meat of 100 different cows.”

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger


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