Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
IMPROVEMENTS IN FOOD TAGGING AND TRACKING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/000025
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates generally to consumer food products and restaurant services for serving food to consumers. In particular, the invention relates to means for tagging food products destined for service in restaurants and other similar commercial food serving establishments including home delivery services. The tag may comprise data, and be configured to be physically attached to a food material, or to food packaging. The data may be readable by a mobile device, and may encodes computer network information sufficient to allow connection of a network- enabled mobile device to form a data connection with a remote computer file server.

Inventors:
BROUGHTON GREGORY (AU)
Application Number:
PCT/AU2020/050705
Publication Date:
January 07, 2021
Filing Date:
July 03, 2020
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
FOODTRACE SOLUTIONS PTY LTD (AU)
International Classes:
A01K11/00; A22C17/10
Domestic Patent References:
WO2004104970A22004-12-02
WO2008052298A12008-05-08
WO2007047483A22007-04-26
WO2015183086A12015-12-03
Foreign References:
USRE41815E2010-10-12
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BOROVEC, Steven (AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS:

1. A tag comprising data, the tag configured to be physically attached to a food material, or to food packaging.

2. The tag of claim 1 , wherein the data is readable by a mobile device.

3. The tag of claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the data is readable by an imaging system of a mobile device

4. The tag of any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein the data is readable by an antenna of a mobile device

5. The tag of claim 4, wherein the antenna is part of a near field communication system.

6. The tag of any one of claims 1 to 5, wherein the data is encoded in an optical code, including a linear optical code and a matrix optical code) or a computer-readable text.

7. The tag of claim 4 or claim 5, wherein the data is encoded in a chip and readable by a scanning antenna.

8. The tag of any one of claims 1 to 7, wherein the data encodes computer network information sufficient to allow connection of a network-enabled mobile device to form a data connection with a remote computer file server.

9. The tag of any one of claims 1 to 8, configured such that the data comprised in the tag is readable after any one or more of the following: a food refrigeration temperature exposure, a food warming temperature exposure, a food cooking temperature exposure, a water immersion exposure, a water vapour exposure, a cooking oil exposure, a sterilizing irradiation exposure, and a dry heat sterilization exposure.

Description:
IMPROVEMENTS IN FOOD TAGGING AND TRACKING

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[001]. The present invention relates generally to the field of consumer food products and restaurant services for serving food to consumers. In particular, the invention relates to means for tagging food products destined for service in restaurants and other similar commercial food serving establishments including home delivery services.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

[002]. Food consumers often have a significant interest or concern regarding the provenance of the food they intend eating. The reasons for desiring provenance information are many and varied, and include food safety, whether the food has been sourced ethically, the origin of the food, the species of animal or plant from which the food derives, storage and transport, the presence of possible allergens or other additives, the distance travelled by the food and the like.

[003]. Furthermore, a consumer may hold a certain belief (such as a religious belief) making provenance information important. For example, a consumer may require assurance that a cut of meat originates from an animal slaughtered according to a certain tradition.

[004]. Other consumers require assurance that a food product has been certified as organically produced, or produced in a sanitary manner.

[005]. Consumers may be particular concerned or interested in obtaining information where the food is perishable and in which case detailed information on productions date, transport and storage conditions assume some importance. Furthermore, where a food product is costly, a consumer may require further information to justify the expenditure.

[006]. Other information frequently sought by consumers of food products relate to composition, nutritional factors, calorific value, and product weight.

[007]. The prior art provides various means for labelling food by way of text and other indicia on packaging to inform a consumer of the provenance or other information relating to the food contained therein. [008]. The interest or concern of a consumer may become acute when food is served in a restaurant situation in which a food product is presented fully prepared. Waiting staff may be able to provide provenance information when the consumer is ordering from the menu, or the menu itself may provide such information. In any event, the consumer may be less than confident that the information presented is accurate or even has any basis in fact whatsoever. Where a consumer has an allergy or a strong religious conviction, the assurances of restaurant staff may simply be insufficient to allow the person to even consider dining in that restaurant.

[009]. Provenance or other information relating to food may be of interest or concern to parties in the supply chain apart from the end user, including, abattoirs, food processors, food packagers, food wholesalers, and food retailers. Any of these parties may desire or require food-related information on incoming food materials, or to associated food-related information with an outgoing product or product intermediate. In some instances, the food- related information is never received by an end-consumer of the food but is nevertheless useful to the supply chain party in QA/QC matters, and ensuring food integrity for its downstream customers.

[010]. It is an aspect of the present invention to provide an improvement to prior art means for providing food-related information in a restaurant setting or other circumstance where a consumer requires or desired such information. It is a further aspect to provide a useful alternative to the prior art.

[Oi l]. The discussion of documents, acts, materials, devices, articles and the like is included in this specification solely for the purpose of providing a context for the present invention. It is not suggested or represented that any or all of these matters formed part of the prior art base or were common general knowledge in the field relevant to the present invention as it existed before the priority date of each claim of this application.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[012]. In a first aspect, but not necessarily the broadest aspect, the present invention provides a tag comprising data, the tag configured to be physically attached to a food material or to food packing. [013]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the data is readable by a mobile device.

[014]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the data is readable by an imaging system of a mobile device.

[015]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the data is readable by an antenna of a mobile device.

[016]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the antenna is part of a near field communication system.

[017]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the data is encoded in an optical code.

[018]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the graphical code is a linear optical code or a matrix optical code.

[019]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the data is encoded in a computer-readable text.

[020]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the data is encoded in a chip and readable by a scanning antenna.

[021]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the data is encoded in human- incomprehensible form.

[022]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the data encodes computer network information sufficient to allow connection of a network-enabled mobile device to form a data connection with a remote computer file server.

[023]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the tag is configured such that the data comprised in the tag is readable after any one or more of the following: a food refrigeration temperature exposure, a food warming temperature exposure, a food cooking temperature exposure, a water immersion exposure, a water vapour exposure, a cooking oil exposure, a sterilizing irradiation exposure, and a dry heat sterilization exposure.

[024]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the tag comprises anchoring means configured to anchor the tag into a food material.

[025]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the anchoring mean is selected form any one or more of the following: a barb, a thread, a loop, a hook, a clamp, a tether, and a member fed through the food material having an expanded portion to prevent the member being pulled through the food material. [026]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the anchoring means is configured to be released by a diner before consumption of the food material, or in the course of the diner forming a portion of the food material in preparation for consumption thereof.

[027]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the tag is of sufficiently small dimension so as to not visually overwhelm the food material to which it is physically attached.

[028]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the tag has a footprint of less than about 15 cm 2 , 14 cm 2 , 13 cm 2 , 12 cm 2 , 11 cm 2 , 10 cm 2 , 9 cm 2 , 8 cm 2 , 7 cm 2 , 6 cm 2 , 5 cm 2 , 4 cm 2 , 3 cm 2 , 2cm 2 , or 1 cm 2 .

[029]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the tag is of sufficiently large dimension so as to limit the possibility that a diner does not notice the tag visually.

[030]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the tag has a footprint of greater than about

0.25 cm 2 , 0.5 cm 2 , 0.75 cm 2 , 1 cm 2 , 1.25 cm 2 , 1.5 cm 2 , 1.75 cm 2 , and 2 cm 2 .

[031]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the tag has a thickness of less than about 1 cm, 0.75 cm, 0.5 cm, 0.25 cm, 20 mm, 19 mm, 18 mm, 17 mm, 16 mm, 15 mm, 14 mm, 13 mm, 12 mm, 10 mm, 9 mm, 8 mm, 7 mm, 6 mm, 5 mm, 4 mm, 3 mm, 2 mm, 1 mm, 0.9 mm, 0.8 mm, 0.7 mm, 0.7 mm. 0.5 mm, 0.4 mm, 0.3 mm., 0.2 mm. and 0.1 mm.

[032]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the tag is substantially rigid.

[033]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the tag is fabricated from a material that is capable of exposure to a disinfection or sterilization technique without losing structural integrity or the ability to be read.

[034]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the tag is fabricated from a food grade material, or coated at least in part by a food grade material.

[035]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the tag is fabricated from a metal or a heat resistant polymer or an organic material, or fabricated predominantly from a metal or a heat resistant polymer or an organic material.

[036]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the metal is stainless steel or the heat resistant polymer is a plastic or the organic material is a wood or plant stalk material.

[037]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the tag is not any one or more of the following: a flexible label, an adhesive label, paper-based, and printed with a water-soluble or oil-soluble ink. [038]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the food material is substantially solid or comprises a substantially solid region.

[039]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the food material is an animal-derived product or a plant-derived product.

[040]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the food material is an agricultural product.

[041]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the food material is comprised of muscle tissue of an animal.

[042]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the food material is intended to be transported to a supply chain member or served to an end user for consumption after cooking.

[043] . In one embodiment of the first aspect, the food material is larger or of greater weight than a serving-sized portion and is intended to be divided into two or more serving-sized portions.

[044]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the food material is a serving-sized portion.

[045]. In one embodiment of the first aspect, the serving-sized portion has a weight of less than about 500 gram, 400 gram, 300 gram, 200 gram or 100 gram.

[046]. In a second aspect, the present invention provides a collocation of tags of any embodiment of the first aspect, wherein each of the collocation of tags encodes substantially identical data.

[047]. In one embodiment of the second aspect, the tags are manually separable from each other.

[048]. In one embodiment of the second aspect, the collocation of tags is physically associated with a food mass, the food mass intended to being divided into smaller diner sized portions, each of the single serving-sized portions being configured to be physically attached to one of the single serving-sized portions.

[049]. In a third aspect, the present invention provides the combination of a food material physically attached to the tag of any embodiment of the first aspect.

[050]. In one embodiment of the third aspect, the food material is an animal-derived product or a plant-derived product.

[051]. In one embodiment of the third aspect, the food material is an agricultural product. [052]. In one embodiment of the third aspect, the food material is comprised of muscle tissue of an animal.

[053]. In one embodiment of the third aspect, the food material is intended to be transported to a supply chain member or served to an end user for consumption after cooking.

[054]. In one embodiment of the third aspect, the food material is larger or of greater weight than a serving-sized portion and is intended to be divided into two or more serving sized portions.

[055]. In one embodiment of the third aspect, the food material is a serving-sized portion.

[056]. In one embodiment of the third aspect, the serving-sized portion has a weight of less than about 500 gram, 400 gram, 300 gram, 200 gram or 100 gram.

[057]. In one embodiment of the third aspect, the combination further comprises a serving plate, a serving bowl or a serving platter, wherein the food material with attached tag is presented on the serving plate, the serving bowl or the serving platter.

[058]. In one embodiment of the third aspect, the combination further comprising a serving table, wherein the serving plate, the serving bowl or the serving platter is disposed on the serving table.

[059]. In one embodiment of the third aspect, the combination further comprises a commercial food service establishment, wherein the serving table is disposed within the commercial food service establishment.

[060]. In one embodiment of the third aspect, the combination further comprises a diner, wherein the diner is disposed within the food service establishment and proximal to the serving table.

[061]. In a fourth aspect, the present invention comprises a method of preparing and serving a food material to a diner or preparing a food material for dispatch to a supply chain member, the method comprising the steps of providing the combination of any embodiment of the third aspect, and serving the combination to a diner or dispatching the combination to a supply chain member.

[062]. In one embodiment of the fourth aspect, the method comprises the step of cooking the food product. [063]. In one embodiment of the fourth aspect, the tag is physically attached to the food product for the duration of the cooking process.

[064]. In a fifth aspect, the present invention provides a system for providing food-related informat ion to a diner, the system comprising: the tag of any embodiment of the first aspect or the collocation of tags of any embodiment of the second aspect, the data of the tag sufficient to allow connection of a network-enabled mobile device to a database entry stored on a remote computer file server, a remote computer file server comprising food- related information stored in a database, the database pertaining to one or more food materials that have been tagged or are intended to be tagged with the tag or one of the collocation of tags, wherein the system is operable such that when a mobile device receives the data, food-related information pertaining to the data is retrieved from the computer file server and transmitted to the mobile device for output therefrom.

[065]. In one embodiment of the fifth aspect, the food-related information pertains to the food material to which the tag is physically attached, and the food-related information is related to any one or more of the following: food origin, food processing, food transport, food storage, food composition, food ingredients, food additives, food allergens, food nutrition, food contaminant, and food certification.

[066]. In one embodiment of the fifth aspect, at least some of the food-related information does not pertain to the food material to which the tag is physically attached.

[067]. In one embodiment of the fifth aspect, the food-related information is advertising information.

[068]. In one embodiment of the fifth aspect, the advertising information pertains to any one or more of the following: a food product, a beverage product, a condiment product, a food service business, a food delivery service, a food-related travel destination, and a food- related travel service.

[069]. In one embodiment of the fifth aspect, the remote computer file server is directly or indirectly accessible via the Internet.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1A illustrates a perspective view of a beef steak, being of single- serving size and having a tag bearing a bar code. The tag is anchored into the muscle portion of the beef steak by paired barbs. The tag faces upwardly and toward the diner when served.. FIG. IB illustrates a lateral cross-sectional view of the beef steak of FIG. 1A.

[070]. FIG. 2 A illustrates a perspective view of a beef steak, being of single-serving size and having a tag bearing a bar code. The tag is anchored into the lateral fat portion of the beef steak by paired barbs. The tag faces upwardly and toward the diner when served. FIG. 2B illustrates a lateral cross-sectional view of the beef steak of FIG. 2A.

[071]. FIG. 3 A illustrates a perspective view of a beef steak, being of single-serving size and having a tag bearing a bar code. The tag is anchored into the bone portion of the beef steak by a screw. The tag faces upwardly and toward the diner when served. FIG. 3B illustrates a lateral cross-sectional view of the beef steak of FIG. 3A.

[072]. FIG. 4 A illustrates a perspective view of a beef steak, being of single-serving size and having a tag bearing a bar code. The tag is attached by a wire loop fed into the muscle portion, and secured with a security seal. The tag faces upwardly and toward the diner when served. FIG. 4B illustrates a lateral cross-sectional view of the beef steak of FIG. 4A.

[073]. FIG. 5 A illustrates a perspective view of a salmon portion, being of single-serving size and having an RFID tag. The tag is attached to into the muscle portion of the salmon portion by a wire loop fed into the muscle portion, and secured with a security seal. The tag faces upwardly and toward the diner when served. FIG. 5B illustrates in plan view of an entire fish as served on a plate as a whole meal. The fish has a tag bearing a QR code, the tag being stapled to the fin. The tag faces upwardly and toward the diner when served.

[074]. FIG. 6A illustrates a QR code laser etched onto a tag fabricated from stainless steel, the right view being a rotation of 90 degrees of the left view about the central axis. FIG. 6B illustrates the tag of FIG. 6A inserted into a lateral face of a cooked beef steak, the tag having being inserted during the cooking process.

[075]. FIG. 7A illustrates a QR code printed tag fabricated from ninitol alloy and having integral barbs, the right view being a rotation of 90 degrees of the left view about the central axis. In this illustration, the tag is shown in a first configuration, before the barbs have been splayed outwardly. FIG. 7B illustrates the tag of FIG. 7A in a second configuration whereby the barbs have been splayed outwardly. FIG. 7C illustrates the tag of FIG. 7B inserted into a lateral face of a cooked beef steak, the tag having being inserted during the cooking process.

[076]. FIG. 8 A illustrates a conical tag (three of which are shown on the right) , along with an insertion tool (shown on the left). FIG. 8B illustrates the tag of FIG. 8A inserted into an upper face of an uncooked beef steak. The tag is intended to remain inserted during the cooking process.

[077]. FIG. 9A illustrates a tethered tag, the front side with printed QR code shown on the left, and the reverse unprinted side shown on the right. FIG. 9B shows the tag of FIG. 9A tethered onto a series of carcasses as output by an abattoir. FIG. 9C shows a further tethered tag generated by a wholesale butcher, having received a tagged carcass of FIG 9B. The butcher was provided with a series of tags (not shown) identical to that shown in FIG. 9A for attachment to a series of meat cuts originating from the carcass of FIG. 9B. One of that series of tags is illustrated in FIG. 9C.

[078] . FIG. 10A illustrates a tag fabricated from plastic and having integral barbs, the right view being a rotation of 90 degrees of the left view about the central axis. The tag has a near filed chip moulded thereinto. FIG. 10B illustrates the tag of FIG. 10A inserted into a lateral face of an uncooked beef steak, the tag being intended to remain inserted during the cooking process.

[079]. FIG. 11A shows a metal tag, the first illustration (from left) being the resting configuration before , the second illustration in the open configuration whereby the arms are forced open just before application to a beef steak, and the third illustration showing the return to the resting configured after application to a beef steak. A near field chip is attached to the tag, the chip not being shown in the first and second illustrations for clarity. FIG. 1 IB shows a tool for forcing opening the arms of the tag of FIG. 11 A. A tag in the resting configuration is shown. FIG. 11C illustrates the tag of FIG. 11A inserted into a lateral face of a cooked beef steak, the tag having being inserted during the cooking process.

[080]. FIG. 12A illustrates a conical tag formed from a plastic, and having integral barbs moulded thereinto. An NFC chip and associated indicium is disposed within the tag. FIG. 12B illustrates the tag of FIG. 12A inserted into an uncooked steak. FIG. 12C shows a cross-sectional view of a portion of the beef steak shown in FIG. 12, and after cooking, revealing in ghosted form the outline of the tag of FIG. 12A embedded therein.

[081]. FIG. 13A illustrates a composite polymer/metal tag (three of which are shown on the right), along with an insertion tool (shown on the left). FIG. 13B and 13C show the respective portions of the composite tag shown in FIG. 13 A, the metallic barbed portion of FIG 13B fitting over the polymeric portion of FIG. 13C. FIG. 13D illustrates the tag of FIG. 13A inserted into an upper face of an uncooked beef steak, the tag being intended to remain inserted during the cooking process.

[082]. FIG. 14A illustrates circular tag fitted with a NFC, and having annular barbs allowing for it to be inserted into a beef steak by rotation. The upper face is shown on the left, and the reverse face shown on the right. FIG. 14B illustrates a lateral view of the tag of FIG. 14A, the arrows indicating the direction of rotation for inserting into a beef steak. FIG. 14C illustrates the tag of FIG. 13A inserted into an upper face of an uncooked beef steak, the tag being intended to remain inserted during the cooking process.

[083]. FIG. 15 A shows from left a tool for inserting a tag. The QR code-printed tag operable with the tool is shown in the second and third illustrations. The third illustration is a rotation of the first illustration through 90 degrees about the long axis. FIG. 15B illustrates the tag of FIG. 13A inserted into an upper face of an uncooked beef steak, the tag being intended to remain inserted during the cooking process.

[084]. FIG. 16A illustrate a tethered RFID tag for application about a generally cylindrical portion of meat. FIG. 16B shows the tag of FIG. 16A as applied to an uncooked generally cylindrical portion of meat, the tag being intended to remain in place during cooking.

[085]. FIG. 17A illustrates in lateral view a leg of beef, having attached thereto a collocation of tags, each tag bearing an identical bar code. The collocation of tags is attached by a wire loop fed into the muscle portion, and secured with a security seal. FIG. 17B illustrates a series of beef steaks cut from the leg of beef drawn in FIG. 6A. Each of the beef steaks has anchored therein (with barbs, as shown in FIG. IB) a single tag of the collocation of tags drawn in FIG. 6A.

[086]. FIGS. 18A, 18B, 18C illustrate exemplary silicone overmould shapes as applied to the RFID tag of FIG 18D. FIG. 18D is an RFID tag as applied to the attaching twine of FIG. 18E. FIG. 18F and 18G are cross-sectional views of a portion of meat having the RFID of FIG. 18D embedded therein, and having a bamboo QR-encoded tag attached to the RFID tag. The bamboo QR-encoded tag attached to the RFID tag is shown at FIG. 18H, with detail of the QR-encoded tag shown at FIG. 181 . FIG. 18J and FIG. 18K show a front and side view respectively of the QR-encoded tag. FIG. 18L shows the looped engagement of the attaching twine of the tag shown in FIG. 18D. FIG. 18M and FIG. 18N show engagement of the barbed portion of the attaching twine shown in FIG. 18D.

[087]. FIGS. 19A, 19B, 19C illustrate exemplary silicone overmould shapes as applied to the RFID tag of FIG 19D. FIG. 19D is an RFID tag as applied to the attaching twine of FIG. 19E. FIG. 19F and lgG are cross-sectional views of a portion of meat having the RFID of FIG. 19D embedded therein, and having a stainless steel QR-encoded tag attached to the RFID tag. The stainless steel QR-encoded tag attached to the RFID tag is shown at FIG. 19H, with detail of the QR-encoded tag shown at FIG. 191 . FIG. 19 J and FIG. 19K show a front and side view respectively of the QR-encoded tag. FIG. 19L shows the looped engagement of the attaching twine of the tag shown in FIG. 19D. FIG. 19M show deformation of the tab and over the attaching twine shown in FIG. 19D.

[088]. FIG. 20A shows a combination tag applicator and reader having a magazine loaded with twine-type tag arrangement of the type shown in FIG. 18H and FIG. 19H. FIG. 20B shows the downward engagement of the magazine with the applicator body. FIG. 20C shows the magazine having been swung upwardly to allow for changing of the needle. FIG. 20D shows the downward application of the applicator/reader of FIG. 20A to a portion of meat. FIG. 20E shows the tag arrangement having been inserted through the meat and secured. FIG. 20F shows reading of the now embedded RFID tag by the reader/applicator shown in FIG. 20 A.

[089]. FIG. 21 illustrates a system of the present invention comprising a tag and a computer server having a database.

[090]. FIG. 22 illustrates a meat supply chain originating at an abattoir, and terminating in a packed meat product. In this embodiment, the carcass has a QR code -printed tag of the present invention. The QR code is copied onto a label of a packaged meat originating from the carcass.

[091]. FIG. 23 illustrates a number of alternative supply chains, the tags of the present invention being associated with one or more meat products of the supply chain. [092]. FIG. 24 is a flow diagram detailing the movement of a food material from a producer to a restaurant, and the transmission of food-related information to a central server.

[093]. It should be noted that the figures are not illustrated to any scale, and items within a drawing are not necessarily drawn to the same scale. Where items are numbered identically across the drawings, those items are the same or at least perform essentially the same function in each of the drawn embodiments.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION AND PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS THEREOF

[094]. After considering this description it will be apparent to one skilled in the art how the invention is implemented in various alternative embodiments and alternative applications. However, although various embodiments of the present invention will be described herein, it is understood that these embodiments are presented by way of example only, and not limitation. As such, this description of various alternative embodiments should not be construed to limit the scope or breadth of the present invention. Furthermore, statements of advantages or other aspects apply to specific exemplary embodiments, and not necessarily to all embodiments covered by the claims.

[095]. Throughout the description and the claims of this specification the word "comprise" and variations of the word, such as "comprising" and "comprises" is not intended to exclude other additives, components, integers or steps.

[096]. Reference throughout this specification to“one embodiment” or“an embodiment” means that a particular feature, structure or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention. Thus, appearances of the phrases“in one embodiment” or“in an embodiment” in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment, but may.

[097]. The present invention is predicated at least in part on the inventor’s discovery that a diner’s interest or concern relating to an item of food served in a restaurant or other establishment arise from the lack of food packing material and associated information. Diners are very used to inspecting food packaging to avail themselves of provenance and other food-related information, however in a restaurant setting fresh produce is provided without packaging. Even where the food product has been delivered to a restaurant in packaged form, such packaging will of course be removed during cooking or other preparation and never viewed by the diner.

[098]. In the prior art, food-related information may be printed on a menu or given orally by a waiter. However, the inventor has further found that this information is generally not considered as necessarily truthful or accurate by the diner. A general view is that such information may simply be marketing“spin” aimed to justify a high price or to otherwise convince the diner to purchase.

[099]. Pursuant to these findings, it is proposed that advantage is gained where a food product is served to a diner with a physically associated tag. The tag may be physically associated with the food product at the origin of production (such as a meat processing plant) thereby giving the diner confidence that any information arising from the tag is true and correct. As will be detailed further infra the tag bears data that is readable by a smartphone application, with information relating to the tagged food being subsequently displayed by the smartphone for review by the diner before consumption of the tagged food.

[100]. Thus, when served a restaurant meal, for example in the form of a cooked steak, the tag is physically associated with the steak and visually apparent to the diner. The diner uses a smartphone or other mobile device to read the data born by the tag and is provided with information on the smartphone display on the steak just served such as the breed of cattle, originating cattle station, predominant feed during lifetime, age at slaughter, date of slaughter, method of slaughter, date of dispatch from abattoir, method of transport, maximum and minimum temperature during transport, date of delivery to wholesaler, identity of wholesaler, maximum and minimum temperature during storage by wholesaler, date of dispatch to restaurant, identity of restaurant, maximum and minimum temperature during storage by restaurant, typical fat content (marbling), organic certification, RSPCA certification and the like.

[101]. Thus, before consuming the steak, the diner is afforded very detailed information allowing for diner to verify a number of parameters before consumption. Such information may simply confirm that already provided by the restaurant, or may be new information. [102]. It will be appreciated that it is the physical association of the tag with the food product that gives the diner confidence in the veracity of the large amount of information that is provided in regard to the steak about to be consumed. Even if such detailed information were provided by the restaurant (whether orally or in printed form) the diner may afford little weight to it. Thus, it may be considered that in the context of the present invention the food-related information travels strictly with the item of food to which it pertains: the food and its associated information are never separated from the point of product to the point of consumption by a diner by virtue of the tag.

[103]. In some circumstances, the diner may wish to consider the food-related information before ordering, and in that case a waiter may briefly present the food material to the diner to allow reading of the tag by smartphone. If the information satisfies the diner, the food material is cooked and presented with the tag still affixed. The diner may read the tag a second time to ensure the information is the same, and there has been no substitution of meat. In that regard, the data born by the tag may perform the further function of providing a serial number of sorts for the particular food material to which it is attached, so the diner can be more certain that no substitution has been effected by the restaurant.

[104]. Food-related information (such as provenance information) may also be provided by or read by a supply chain member such as a primary producer, an abattoir, a food processor, a food packager, a food wholesaler, or a food retailer. The supply chain member may attach a tag of the present invention to a food material, and the tag being read by a downstream member of the supply chain. In this context, the food material may be exposed to an environmental condition by the supply chain member such as a food refrigeration temperature exposure, a food warming temperature exposure, a food cooking temperature exposure, a water immersion exposure, a water vapour exposure, a cooking oil exposure, a sterilizing irradiation exposure, or a dry heat sterilization exposure.

[105]. The food material in this context may be destined for division into multiple serving sized portions by a downstream member of a supply chain member. Where the food material is meat, the food material may be carcass, or carcass portion which is tagged. The carcass or carcass portion may be subjected to an environmental condition by way of cooking, heating, or desiccation before transport to a downstream supply chain member such as a food processor, or a meat retailer. The carcass or carcass portion may be exposed to an environmental condition, such as freezing temperatures, during transport from a supply chain member. For each environmental condition the tag attached to the carcass or carcass portion remains readable, as provided for by the physical construction of the tag.

[106]. Turning now to a description of the tag per se, the physical construction will typically be capable of bearing an environmental condition to which it may be exposed to the extent that after exposure to the environmental condition the tag remains readable. The most extreme environmental condition is anticipated to be cooking. Where the tag is on an external surface of the food it may contact a heated grill or pan surface where temperatures of hundreds of degrees are encountered. The tag will likely be further exposed to various heated liquids such as cooking oils and like, as well as liquids endogenous to the food.

[107]. Preferably, the tag is fabricated so as to remain readable after exposure to a temperature of at least about 50°C, 60°C, 70°C, 80°C, 90°C, 100°C, 150°C, 200°C, 250°C, 300°C, 350°C, 400 °C, 450°C, 500°C, 550°C, 600°C, 650°C, 700°C, 750°C, 800°C, 850°C, 900°C, 950°C or 1000 °C.

[108]. In some circumstances, the environment condition caused by cooking may be a dry heat (for example, when cooking in an oven) or a moist heat (for example when cooking by steaming).

[109]. In any event, the ability of the present tag to remain readable after exposure to such environmental extremes provides advantage over the prior art

[110]. Suitably, the tag may be composed predominantly or completely from a metal such as stainless steel (of food grade) which will withstand the harsh environmental conditions of cooking. A barcode or QR code may be laser etched onto the tag using a laser system such as the Epilog™ system of Epilog Laser Inc (CO, United States), such etching anticipated to maintain readability even after intense cooking, immersion, desiccation, or freezing. Where a metal tag is disposed on a surface to be contacted by a heated grill or pan, advantage is provided given that heat is transferred through the tag to the underlying food.

[111]. Alternatively, a polymer having significant heat resistance may be used. The tag may be printed with a QR code or barcode using a thermal transfer printer. Such a tag may be more appropriately disposed on a food surface that does not contact a heated grill or pan. Useful materials are thermosetting polymers that are irreversibly hardened by curing from a soft solid or viscous liquid prepolymer or resin. Curing is typically induced by heat or radiation and may be facilitated by high pressure, or facilitated by exposure to catalyst. The resultant chemical reactions create extensive cross-linking between polymer chains to produce an infusible and insoluble polymer network. Exemplary polymers include polyester resin fiberglass systems, polyurethanes, polyurea/polyurethane hybrids, vulcanized rubber, Duroplast™, epoxy resin, vinyl ester resin, and silicones. In some instances thermoplastics such as a high density polyethylene may be used where significantly elevated temperatures will not be encountered (for example a low or moderate heat oven).

[112]. The tag may be fabricated from an organic material, including a plant organic material, including a cellulosic material such as a wood or stalk material. Plant based materials are often foodstuffs, and accordingly a consumer will generally not find a plant- based tag objectionable. In some embodiments, the tag may be fabricated from bamboo stalk material or any wood material.

[113]. Ceramic materials (such as heat proof sintered ceramics) will be useful where the tag in intended to contact a cooking surface such as a pan or grill or otherwise exposed to extreme temperatures during cooking.

[114]. In selecting materials for the tag, regard will typically be had to the possibility of leachates entering the food, especially during cooking. Accordingly, anticipated cooking conditions and storage conditions (including temperature, humidity and time period) will generally be considered when selecting suitable materials.

[115]. In some embodiments, the tag may be tethered to the food allowing for limited or no contact with the food, and in which case issues of leachates become less important.

[116]. In some embodiments, the tag comprises a removable protective cover to inhibit that transmission of heat thereto or the ingress of liquid. The cover will typically be removed before service to the diner, thereby presenting a clean and readable data bearing surface. In that regard, the cover may be fabricated from a low heat transfer material that is also generally liquid impermeable. [117]. The cover may function so as to prevent contact of the tag with the food and the leaching of any compound from the tag into the food. In that regard, the cover may be fabricated from a natural, nonporous material.

[118]. The tag is configured for physical association with the food material to be tagged.

The means for physical association may be selected so as to limit the possibility for removal (and potential substitution for another tag) so as to give the diner confidence that the information obtained by way of the tag does in fact pertain to the food to which it is physically associated.

[119]. Alternatively, the tag may be removable, but is configured such that in the process of removal the food is physically damaged to the point where a diner would notice the damage and refuse to purchase or consume it. For example, barbs may be used which cause minimal disruption when inserted but tear the food product when removed.

[120]. In some instance a portion of the tag (such as a stem portion) may extend all the way through the food material, and the terminus of the portion being fitted with an irremovable member that prevents pull-through. The tag may only be removable by cutting the food, an act which may be effected by the diner.

[121]. In some embodiments, the tag is attached to the food material using a tether of flexible elongate material. In some circumstances, the tether may be fed through the product with a needle of sorts or passed through a small aperture previously formed in the food product.

[122]. As for the tag material, when selecting a tether material regard will typically be had to heat resistance, the potential for leachates and the like. A fine stainless steel wire will be useful for relatively tough foods such as beef and fibrous vegetables. However, for softer foods such as delicate fish flesh more giving materials such as textiles, twines, threads and the like may be used.

[123]. The data born by the tag may be optical in nature. Suitable optical means include alphanumeric data that is readable by optical character recognition software, or be a barcode or a QR code. Other optical means are not excluded, including optical means not yet developed but available in the future.

[124]. Alternatively, the data born by the tag is non-optical in nature and may be in electronic form. An exemplary non-optical form of bearing data is a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. Typically, a passive RFID tag is used, which includes an antenna and memory circuit. The memory circuit is powered by extracting energy from the interrogation signal transmitted by the RFID reader. An active RFID tag is less preferred given the need for a source of electrical energy (such as a battery) to power the transmission of RF signals from the tag to the reader.

[125]. Reading an RFID tag may require dedicated hardware not available on a smartphone. In that regard, the tag may be configured to operate in the context of a near filed communication (NFC) system of the type supported by the majority of modern smartphones. NFC may be considered as a variety of RFID with the exception that NFC is designed for use by devices within close proximity to each other. In the context of a diner in restaurant seeking to read NFC data from a tag in very close proximity, the need for close apposition does not present any problem. Any of the three NFC schemes may be implemented: Type A, Type B, or FeliCa.

[126]. The NFC system implemented in the context of the present invention may be active or passive. A passive device, such as an NFC tag, contains information that other devices can read but does not read any information itself. This type of NFC will be more applicable to the present invention for the reason as discussed with respect to RFID broadly supra.

[127]. Other optical means are not excluded, including optical means not yet developed but available in the future.

[128]. The data may itself provide food-related information, in the form of human comprehensible text, graphics or other means. In other embodiments the data born by the tag is an identifier, such as unique identifier which is or is not human comprehensible. In some embodiments, the identifier is a graphical code such as a QR code or a barcode or data obtained wirelessly such as via a RFID device or a NFC device.

[129]. Where the data is an identifier, the identifier may be used to identify a database entry on a remote computer file server. For example, the identifier may be captured by a smartphone camera and input to dedicated application software already stored on the smartphone. The dedicated application software is configured to instruct the smartphone to make network communication with a predetermined computer server holding a series of identifiers and food-related information in linked association in the form of a relational database. Thus, the application software, having inputted the identifier of the tag and being connected to the remote computer file server, is able to access food-related information in linked-association with the identifier. For example, where the identifier is 789456382 the relational database has an entry 789456382, and the information in linked association is the provenance information for the food product which was originally tagged with, and that provenance information being communicated to the smartphone via network connection (typically an Internet connection).

[130]. The present invention is not limited to providing information about the food to which the tag is attached. Other food-related information may be provided to the diner, such information possibly taking the form of advertising. For example, the information may advertise the availability of a wine, side dish or condiment that would complement the food material. Alternatively, the advertising information may promote food and beverage products available outside the restaurant or even food-related travel offers, magazines, cook books, cooking classes, offerings of other restaurants, and the like.

[131]. With regard to provenance information, or any other corruptible information, security of the information may be provided by way of blockchain technology. Use of a blockchain in the context of the present invention may involve the generation of a block for every item of information associated with a tag (and therefore a food material), and also for reception of information associated therewith. Blockchain technology allows for verification that the information is the same, and has not been corrupted in any way.

[132]. The present invention will now be more fully described by reference to the attached drawings. While certain features are presented in combination in each drawing, it should not be inferred that a feature cannot be combined with any other feature of an embodiment of another drawing, or indeed with any feature of the invention described whether by drawing or the text of the description or claims.

[133]. Turning firstly to FIG. 1 there is shown an embodiment of the invention where a beef steak (10) has a physically attached tag (15) bearing a barcode. The barcode is unique to the extent that it is capable of providing information on the beef steak (10) to which it is attached amongst other food materials in circulation bearing a barcode. The tag (15) is anchored into underlying muscle tissue by paired metal barbs (17a, 17b).

[134]. With regard to the embodiment of FIG. 1A and other embodiments, the metal barbs

(17a, 17b) are configured to insert into the muscle tissue relatively easily, but are relatively difficult to remove. Accordingly, the tag (15) will likely remain anchored during handling, transport, preparation and cooking of the beef steak (10). The tag (15) may be deliberately removed, however doing so would likely result in visually apparent damage to the surface of the beef steak (10) thereby alerting a restaurateur or a diner that a tag has been removed and to therefore question the provenance of the food material. Generally, the tag (15) is removable by a diner in the course of eating the beef steak (10), and will generally fall away as the diner cuts bite-sized portions with a knife.

[135]. The tag (15) may be of composite construction with the barbs (17a, 17b) being metallic while the planar portion bearing the barcode is manufactured from a plastic material.

[136]. In any event, the tag is fabricated form material(s) or otherwise constructed so as to maintain integrity during transport, storage, refrigeration and cooking. Integrity may be considered as a function of the readability of tag (15). In the embodiment of FIG. 1A the tag (15) bears a bar code, and accordingly integrity of the tag is compromised where the barcode becomes unreadable. Readability may be impaired by distortion, fading, loss of contrast against a background and the like.

[137]. Typically, the tag (15) is disposed facing upwardly so as to be immediately noticeable when service to a diner. However, where it is desired that the tag (15) is not so immediately visible to a diner (which may be for reasons of aesthetics only) a tag of the type shown in FIG. 1A may be anchored into a lateral surface of the beef steak, as shown in FIG. 2A. In FIG. 2A, the tag (15) may be faced generally toward the diner when serving so it is noticeable, however detracts less visually as compared with the embodiment of FIG. 1A.

[138]. An alternative anchoring means is shown in FIG. 3 A, whereby a bone portion (20) of the beef steak (10) is exploited as a stable substrate in which to anchor a tag. In the embodiment of FIG. 3A, a metal screw (25) extends through the tag (15) and into the underlying bone (20), as shown more clearly in FIG. 3B. The head of the screw (25) may be of the anti-tamper type thereby increasing confidence that an originally applied tag has not been removed and replaced. An advantage of the embodiment of FIG. 3A is that the diner is not forced to remove the tag in order to consume the flesh surrounding the bone. [139]. A further means for attaching a tag to a beef steak is shown in FIG. 4A involving a length of wire (25) (or other material such as thread, synthetic fibre and the like) being passed through the muscle tissue, and in turn through an aperture in the tag (15). The wire (25) may be passed through the muscle tissue using a needle of sorts to only minimally damage the beef steak (10). The tag (15) may sit to one side of beef steak (10) when being served, and facing upwards such that the diner notices it readily. Many diners are relatively accepting of cooking twine (100% cotton twine) being used to in the presentation of meat products, and may be less perturbed in encountering the tagging arrangement embodied in FIG. 4A than the barbed version shown in FIG. 1A.

[140]. An advantage of the embodiment of FIG. 4 A is that the tag (15) may stay in place during cooking of the beef steak (10) on grill but does not need to contact the grill. For example, where a first side of the beef steak (10) is cooked, the tag (15) may rest of the upper face of the meat. When the beef steak (10) is turned to cook the second side, the tag (15) may be moved onto the first side which is now facing upwardly and away from the grill. Exposure of to a grill temperature may damage a tag, or otherwise render it unreadable and the ability to manipulate a tag away from such extreme heat may be useful in that regard.

[141]. The embodiment of FIG. 4A utilises a security seal (30) to close the length of wire (25) to provide the diner with greater confidence that the tag (15) is the original tag applied to the beef steak (10). Accordingly, the diner will have more confidence in the provenance information that is associated with the tag (15) and therefore also the beef steak (10).

[142]. Turning now to FIG. 5A, there is shown a salmon portion (35) having an attached

RFID tag (15). The tag (15) has an aperture allowing for a wire or other elongate and flexible securing means (25) to be inserted therethrough. As for the embodiment of FIG. 4A, the tag (15) is attached using a loop of wire (25). Salmon flesh is relatively soft and the barbed tag (15) of FIG. 1A may not sufficiently anchor therein. Furthermore, the use of a length of wire may cut through the soft flesh. In the embodiment of FIG. 5A the tag (15) is secured by way of a narrow fabric tape (25) which is itself relatively soft and flexible thereby minimising the possibility of cutting through the salmon flesh. [143]. The embodiment of FIG. 5B shows the use of a tag on a whole animal, being a fish (45) in the drawing. The fish (45) might be sufficient to serve a single diner, or may instead be intended to be shared amongst several diners at a table.

[144]. The species of fish in this embodiment has a fibrous fin which is used as a substrate for the tag (15). To secure the tag (15) to the fin, a metal staple (55) is used. In this embodiment, the tag (15) bears a QR code, rather than a barcode.

[145]. The embodiment of FIG. 6A is a metallic tag (15) of polished stainless steel having a laser-etched QR code readable by application software of a smart phone (or other mobile device, or non-mobile device). The tag is inserted into a lateral face of a beef steak, cooked and served to a diner, as shown in FIG. 6B. The tag does not materially affect the pan cooking process given that it does not contact or overly a broad surface of the steak.

[146]. It will be noted that a tag of the invention that is sufficiently resilient (such as that of FIG. 6A, and others) may be reused. For example, where portions of serving-sized meat are obtained from a single carcass, a first portion may be tagged, cooked and served and then used again for a second portion that is tagged, cooked and served at a later time, and to a different customer. In some embodiments, a tag may be reused for a portion of meat obtained from a different carcass, but the information on the tag (which remains the same) links to food-related information for the different carcass via an internet-connected server as described elsewhere herein.

[147]. FIG. 7 shows a tag (15) fabricated from a ninitol alloy that is forged to the first configuration shown in FIG. 7A. The tag (15) comprises two barbs (17a, 17b) that in the first configuration are flush with the remainder of the tag (15). This first configuration is easily inserted via a lateral face of a beef steak to be cooked. During cooking, the heat causes the barbs (17a, 17b) to splay outwardly as shown in FIG. 7B thereby preventing removal immediately after cooking, as shown in FIG. 7C. While the diner is eating around the tag (15) the meat (10) is cooling, and once cooled the tag (15) reverts to the first configuration shown in FIG. 7 A thereby facilitating removal from the final uneaten portion by the diner. The final portion may then be consumed without interference from the tag

(15).

[148]. FIG. 8A shows a conical tag (15) configured to be pushed into a beef steak, as shown in FIG. 8B by the hand tool (42). The member (43) is located in the depression (44) on the upper face of the tag (15), and manual force used to urge the tag into the meat (10). The tag (15) has protuberances (13) on the outer face contacting the meat, and shaped to facilitate insertion but inhibit removal. After insertion, a disc (not shown) may be applied to the upper face of the tag to cover the depression (44). The disc may have a QR code printed therein or a NFC chip integral therewith.

[149]. The embodiment of FIG. 9 A comprises a wire tether (25) then ends of which are securely moulded into the tag (15). The face of the tag (15) has a QR code printed thereon. Such a tag (15) may be used to tag a carcass as shown in FIG. 9B or a beef steak as shown in FIG. 9C. As will be appreciated, this tag is substantially tamper-proof as provides greater security as to the authenticity of the food-related information accessible via the QR code.

[150]. The embodiment of FIG. 10A is a moulded plastic tag (15) having a spiked terminus (18) to ease insertion into a lateral face of a beef steak (10) as shown in FIG. 10B. The tag (15) comprises also a series of barbs (one marked 17) to inhibit removal from the beef steak (10).

[151]. The embodiment of FIG. 11 A is tag (15) that fabricated from a metal. The tag (15) is biased to the closed configuration shown at the far left. In that configuration, the tag (15) is held in the hand tool (26) as shown in FIG. 1 IB. The arms (19a, 19b) are spread as shown in the middle representation of FIG. 11A by the user squeezing together the two grip portions (26a, 26b). With the arms (19a, 19b) spread the tag (15) is applied to a beef steak, and the biasing causing the arm to return toward to the closed configuration as shown in FIG. l lC. Each of the arms (19a, 19b) has a barb (17a, 17b) facilitating entry of the arms into the meat but inhibiting removal.

[152]. The embodiment of FIG. 12A is a conical tag (15) integrally moulded in a heat resistant plastic comprising a NFC chip. The outer surface of the tag (15) has a series of barbs (one marked 17). In this embodiment, a thumb is placed on the planar upper face of the tag (15), and manually pushed into the meat, as shown in FIG. 12B and FIG. 12C.

[153]. The embodiment of FIG. 13A shows a composite tag (15) comprised of a main plastic body (15a) and a metallic portion (15b) which locates onto the body (15a). The metallic portion comprises a spike (18) and a series of barbs (one of which is marked 17). A tool (42) is used to push the tag (15) into a beef steak (10) as described for other embodiments.

[154]. The embodiment of FIG. 14A is a disc-like tag (15) having circumferential bards

(17a, 17b, 17c) disposed on the underside. The barbs are placed on the surface of the beef steak, and rotated as shown in FIG 14B using a hand tool (not shown) which fits into the notches (one of which is marked 15). Upon rotation, the barbs (17a, 17b, 17c) which are angled on their lower sides bite into the meat and essentially screwed downwardly and into the meat. When completely wound, the planar surface of the tag (15) is flush with the meat surface as shown in FIG. 14C.

[155]. The tag (15) of FIG. 15A is fabricated generally from a flexible plastic and has a

QR code printed thereon. The tag (15) comprises an arrow-shaped member (27) which inserts into the aperture (28) in an opposing face of the tag (15). The aperture (28) is shaped so as to flare such that the terminus of the arrow-shaped member (27) is retained therein. The arrow-shaped member (27) is pushed through the meat by the tool (42) by locating the member (43) in the depression (44) of the tag (15). The member (27) is further pushed such that the head of the arrow-shaped member (27) enters and engages with the aperture (28). In some embodiments, the member (27) is fabricated or reinforced so as to be relatively rigid such that bending is prevented when being pushed through the meat (10).’

[156]. The tag (15) of FIG. 16A is configured to replace the yarn normally used about a cylindrical portion of meat. The tether (25) is fabricated from such yarn, and attaches to an RFID tag portion. The tag (15) with tether (25) is shown applied to a cylindrical portion of meat in FIG 16B

[157]. FIG. 17A shows an embodiment of the invention using a set of collocated tags (60) each tag of which (60a through 60h) bears an identical bar code. The tags (60a through 60h) are separable by way of a frangible border extending between two adjacent tags (e.g. between tag 60a and tag 60b such that tag 60a may be independently freed from the collocated set (60)). The collocated set of tags (60) is attached to a beef leg (65) with a length of wire (25) closed by a security tag (30).

[158]. The combination shown in FIG. 17A may be delivered to a restaurant, and destined to be cut into individual steaks by the chef. As a steaks is cut from the leg (65) a tag (any one of 60a through 60h) is removed from the collocation (60) and anchored into the newly cut steak. This approach allows for each steak (65a through 65g) to be tagged with identical bar codes (as shown in FIG. 6B), that being appropriate because all steaks (65a through 65g) have the same history, being cut from the same leg (65).

[159]. The tags are not necessarily collocated by mutual physical attachment, and instead may be collocated by presence in a package or by being tethered together in some manner.

[160]. As an alternative, the leg (65) may have only a single tag, but the readable portion of the tag may be used to generate a series of tags for each of steaks 65a through 65g. For example, where the leg (65) has an RFID tag, the tag may be read by and RIFD reading device and information encoded thereon used to write information to a series of RFID tags for association with each of the steaks 65a through 65g. In another form of the invention, a series of barcode-printed tags may be generated from the information readable from a tag associated with the leg (65), the so generated tags being then associated with each of the steaks 65a through 65g.

[161]. Referring now to FIG. 18E there is shown a tag arrangement (70) having both an

RFID tag (15a) and an optically readable QR-coded tag (15b). The RFID tag (15a) is overmoulded with silicone (72). The silicone overmould (72) may be shaped so as to facilitate being passed through the meat portion (25) in one direction, and resist movement in the opposite direction. The QR-coded tag in this embodiment is fabricated from an unpliable material such as bamboo, and the code is laser-etched thereonto.

[162]. The tags (15a) and (15b) are joined by a butchers’ twine (25). At one point along the twine (20) is a barb (74). A portion of the twine (25) distal to the barb (74) is secured to the tag (15b) by looping through the circular aperture (76) of the tag (15b) as shown in FIG. 18L. The barb (74) is pushed through the meat (10) by the applicator shown in FIG. 20A until it exits therefrom. The RFID tag (15a) in its integral moulding (72) is pulled through the meat behind the barb (74), and when the tag (15a) and moulding (72) is located midway through the meat, (typically when the barb (74) has exited the meat) it is pulled no further. The free barb (74) is passed through the slot (78) of the tag (15b) and is generally resistant to movement in the reverse direction, thereby securing the tags (15a) and (15b) to the meat (10) as shown in FIG. 18F and 18G.

[163]. The RFID tag (15b) is not intended to be readable by a consumer (consumers typically not possessing an RFID reader device), and is instead intended to be read by dedicated readers at points along the logistics chain, as further described with respect to tracing and logistics herein. The QR-encoded tag is intended to be read by the consumer (typically by way of a smart phone camera and associated application software) as described elsewhere herein.

[164]. FIG. 19 shows a tag arranged similar to that in construction and operation as that shown in FIG. 18, except that a QR-encoded tag ( 15b) is fabricated from a flexible stainless steel material. The tag (15b) has two tabs (80) and (82), each having a circular aperture formed therein. In this embodiment, the twine (25) is passed through the aperture in each tab (80) and (82), with the tabs being subsequently folded inwardly (as shown in FIG. 19M) and optionally crimped firmly so as to prevent the twine (25) from moving relative to the tag (15b).

[165]. FIG. 20A shows an applicator device (90) configured to apply a tag to a food, such as meat (10). The applicator device (90) comprises a magazine (92) holding a plurality of tags (15). In this embodiment, the applicator device (90) comprises a hand-operable actuation lever (94) which when urged downwardly forces the needle (96) downwardly and into the meat (10) to be tagged. As will be noted, the needle (96) has an eye (98) through which a twine (or similar) of a tag arrangement is passed through. When the needle (96) is forced through the meat (10), the twine is dragged behind it and therefore passes into and through the meat (10). Once the twine is passed through the meat (10), the free ends are engaged to the tag (15b) as shown in FIG. 20E.

[166]. In one embodiment, the applicator device (90) comprises a second function, being the ability to read a tag (optical, RFID or otherwise). In FIG. 20F the reader trigger (see 96 in FIG. 20A) has been depressed by the user, causing the electronics within the device (90) to scan for any proximal RFID tag. In the case of FIG. 20F, a RFID tag is located within the meat (10) and a code read therefrom.

[167]. Applicator devices having dual functions provides advantage in that a user can firstly tag a portion of meet, and then straight away check that the tag is readable with the same device. Thus, there is no need for a user to swap devices in the hand thereby saving significant time and effort where large number of meat portions are processed. The identification code read may be uploaded to a remote server (for example via WiFi™ networking means included in the applicator device (90)) thereby entering the particular tagged portion of meat and associated code into a computer-implemented tracking and logistics system as disclosed elsewhere herein.

[168]. A system of the present invention comprising a tag (15) and a computer server (100) is shown in FIG. 21. The computer server is Internet connected, and comprises an accessible relational database (105) holding a series of tag numbers (110) in linked association with food-related information (115). It will be understood that the series of tag numbers (110) may be held on a different server (physically or logically) however the end result will be the same as if they were held on the same server (physically or logically).

[169]. According to the system, where a diner (not drawn) is served a beef steak (10), the diner uses his/her smartphone (120) to capture an image of the barcode of the tag (15). Application software stored in the smartphone (120) converts the barcode image into the corresponding numerical sequence which is input into application software of the smartphone (120). The smartphone (120) is in network communication to a server (100) having stored thereon an accessible relational database (105). Already stored in the relational database (105) is a series of tag identifiers (110). Each of the tag identifiers (110) is in linked association with food-related information (115) specific to the food bearing the tag (15).

[170]. In this exemplary embodiment, the tag (15) has a barcode encoding the identifier

6785432, that identifier being in linked association with the cell INFO#2. Accordingly, the food-related information stored in the cell INFO#2 is transmitted from the server (100) via the Internet to the diner’s smart phone (120) and displayed on the screen thereof.

[171]. Referring now to FIG. 22 there is shown a supply chain, whereby an animal carcass produced by an abattoir and tagged with a QR code-printed tag of the present invention. When packaging into retails saleable packages, the QR code is reproduced on a packaging label. A potential consumer may scan the QR code on the package to check information related to the meat contained in the packaging before purchase.

[172]. A number of alternative supply chains are shown in FIG. 23. A tag (not shown) may be associated with a meat material at any stage, including a carcass, part of a carcass, a serving-sized portion, a retail package or a wholesale package.

[173]. Reference is now made to the flowchart of FIG. 24, commencing with the production of a food material (200) by a food producer. The producer attaches a tag having an identifier (205) as soon as possible. The producer accesses database hosted on a server and inputs the tag identifier and also information such as date of production, place of production, species of animal or plant from which the food is derived et cetera.

[174]. The food material is transported from the producer and stored in a warehouse (215).

In the course of transport and storage environment conditions such as temperature and humidity are recorded by a data logging device. These environmental conditions are uploaded to the server (being the same server at (210)), along with the place of storage. The duration of storage is further added to the server when the food material exists the warehouse (220).

[175]. Upon receipt of the food material by the restaurant, environmental conditions are further logged along with date of receipt and uploaded to the server (being the same server at (210)).

[176]. The food material is cooked at the restaurant and presented to a diner, having a smartphone. The diner scans the tag on the food material and is presented with all information provided by the various parties at (210) (220) and (230) on the smart phone display.

[177]. While the invention has been disclosed in connection with the preferred embodiments shown and described in detail, various modifications and improvements thereon will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art. For example, the invention is described mainly by way of meat products but is nevertheless applicable to other food products such as plant products (fruit, vegetables and the like).

[178]. The invention is also applicable to food products that are composite in nature, but with at least one components having an attached tag. Alternatively, all components may be associated together be a single tag.

[179]. Accordingly, the spirit and scope of the present invention is not to be limited by the foregoing examples, but is to be understood in the broadest sense allowable by law.