Using the Power of DNA and On-Product Traceability to Exceed the Security of Conventional Packaging

With increasing urgency, consumers and regulators are demanding transparency and assurances from companies, manufacturers, and distributors regarding their safety practices and the authenticity of their products. To illustrate the magnitude of the issue, the U.S spends an average of $152 billion annually on food borne illness related costs and an average of $10 million a year per food recall. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration responded by ushering in the New Era of Smarter Food Safety, highlighting critical shortcomings of the current system in rapidly tracking and tracing food: records being largely paper-based; lack of end-to-end product traceability; and limitations in data sufficiency, compatibility, and quality for identifying products along the supply chain. These shortcomings can result in loss of life, millions of dollars in avoidable product loss, and lasting damage to consumer trust.


There is a persistent gap between the physical product being tracked and traced, and paper and digital records in the supply chain, providing the opportunity for bad actors in the supply chain to manipulate paper-based records, product labeling and packaging, and to profit from the misrepresentation of products. Product integrity can also be compromised through unintentional adulteration of records and products, due to human error resulting from an overly manual, inefficient record-keeping process.

The good news is that blockchain and other existing supply chain solutions and digital technologies have made significant advances toward enhancing traceability and ultimately product integrity and consumer safety. Yet, the question remains on how to link a product’s digital record directly to the product.


A groundbreaking technology that leverages the power of DNA addresses the gap between the physical product, packaging, and digital-based records. SafeTraces, an innovative technology company in Pleasanton, CA has patented and deployed the miniDART® solution in the food industry and pharmaceutical industry, where it integrates seamlessly into existing production and processing steps, such as bulk commodity transfer points at the farm-level, produce wax lines or automated bag-filling lines.


SafeTraces’ revolutionary process of DNA tagging combines short, non-coding, non-living DNA sequences into edible, invisible, FDA-Generally Recognised as Safe (FDA-GRAS), DNA tags that leverage GS1 standards. The flavourless DNA tags, called safeTracers®, are applied directly to food, an API, excipient, or finished dose, in parts per billion (ppb) or less. By adding safeTracers directly to a product, the miniDART provides an immutable, covert, physical link between the product and digital traceability solutions. Using a simple test kit, downstream partners can read lot-level information directly off the product in 25 minutes, thereby rapidly accelerating the time it takes to authenticate a product even after its packaging has been removed.


When compared to conventional traceability solutions, SafeTraces’ solution delivers superior performance, ease of use, and scalability. It enables manufacturers and downstream partners to empirically support farm-to-fork claims, strengthen transparency and sustainability stories with consumers, and mitigate cost and risk associated with recalls and adulteration.


- Ulrike Hodges, COO of SafeTraces

Ulrike Hodges is the COO of SafeTraces, a Bay Area-based technology company and leader in DNA-enabled solutions for safety, traceability, and environmental quality. By harnessing the power of DNA, SafeTraces’ solutions meet the increasing demands of customers in the built environment, pharmaceutical, and food industries. Visit safetraces.com or contact a representative at info@safetraces.com for more information.

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