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Frequently Asked questions


  • How much is it?
    Several pricing options are available. Fees generally consist of a set-up fee to establish the baseline, and the ongoing fee to maintain the program with verification sampling and reporting. Source Certain will work with each customer to establish the most cost effective service.

  • Can the technology be tricked or fooled?
    No. One of the most valuable aspects of this technology is that the identification is independent from human intent. This is a significant advancement from existing paper-based or bar code RFID type traceability system, or quality assurance systems in general, where the system is only as reliable as the people running the system. Until now, it has been extremely difficult to confirm the authenticity of products and traceability of a product. Especially if it is outside your business or immediate team. How much do you trust the workers of the people who supply your products? Would sending a private investigator or full time auditor be economical?

  • What happens if there is an incorrect verification?
    At Source Certain we're focused on improving food supply and traceability systems. In fact, we expect to find incorrect verifications! When verification appears to be incorrect, this is discussed with the customer and strategies are put in place to review and fix the problem. Source Certain aims to restore the integrity of the supply chain.

  • How does the technology work?
    We determine what we call an “elemental fingerprint” of the commodity or products within a supply chain that we need to verify. Not dissimilar to our own fingerprints, which are unique to us, an elemental fingerprint of food is unique to the location of production or manufacture. The elemental fingerprint of a food product is a direct reflection of where and how it was grown (its geographical origin and production system) as well as how it might have been processed.

  • Why does this technology work?
    The technology works because the food supply chain is designed to take the food product from a source to a consumer. As we can uniquely identify the commodities and define the supply chain it is possible to apply the technology to verify that the food products reaching a consumer are from the intended source. Being able to apply the technology this way enables us provide services that build security and integrity into food supply chains that has not been possible until now.

  • How accurate is it?
    The technology is extremely accurate, certainly more accurate than human processing and analysis. A combination of both the fundamental analytical concept and the quality assurance built into the services though the relationship between Source Certain and scientists at TSW Analytical provides extra scrutiny and robustness. In fact, the technology has not ever been shown to be incorrect!

  • Do you use DNA or isotopes (semi-technical clarification)?
    We typically use elements and the isotopes of these elements within our services, mainly because of accuracy and cost effectiveness for the service applications. Because of the complexity of food supply chains and the heavy processing that occurs in some of these we have found that the elemental/isotopic profiling method is the most robust for traceability of food. DNA tracing does have some applications in food fraud investigations and Source Certain will use this approach if the technical team deem it to be the best approach for an investigation.

  • Can this be used in court?
    Yes, the TSW Analytical Forensic Science team routinely apply this sort of technology to forensic investigations. For example, the technology has been used in a large number of gold theft investigations, and has been used in courts across a number of international jurisdictions.

  • How long does it take to get a result?
    There are a lot of variables that determine the time it takes to get a result. The time will largely be determined by the result expected by a customer; all Source Certain services can be tailored to meet specific needs. It is possible to complete a verification of a sample within 24 hours if there is need to have rapid information or confirmation.

  • What foods does this apply to?
    The technology has a very wide application to all foods (and fibre). The levels of traceability that will be achieved will depend on how the source location is defined, which in turn is based on customer need. For example, defining traceability of a hamburger will have a different requirements than an apple and hence these services are delivered differently.

  • Why would anyone be interested in knowing where food comes from?
    This question depends who you are. For example, the distributors and retailers that often are the connection between producers and consumers of the food want to make sure that, not only they are delivering the best quality and safest food, but they can also be confident that it is in line with what they are telling the end consumer. It is also clear that current consumers are also starting to care where there food comes from with the growth of “locally sourced” branding in the food market place.

  • What does Source CertifiedTM mean?
    If you are the supplier who is making a claim about your product (e.g. ethical/quality) then, upon authentication, Source Certain will grant the Source CertifiedTM logo for use on products so that your customers can have confidence that they are getting what they are paying for.