Clear Labs nabs $16M in funding to advance food safety system
- Food technology and analytics company Clear Labs closed another round of funding — this time for $16 million — to further advance its proprietary system of next-generation sequencing (NSG), according to Project NOSH. The technology is intended to help brands and retailers identify food fraud and verify the authenticity of ingredients, as well as improve the traceability and safety of their own products. To date, the company has raised $25 million.
- Applications of NSG have largely focused on medicine and cancer research, but food safety applications could be huge. “New technologies are shaking up the way we think about food, for the better… Clear Labs is helping to lead that revolution,” Gaurav Garg, Wing VC founding partner and Clear Labs board member, told Project NOSH. “We expect Clear Labs to become the leading name in food testing and safety, helping brands streamline their food safety programs and eliminate blind spots in their supply chains.”
- This latest round of funding was led by Wing VC, with other investors including Google Ventures, Tencent, Khosla Ventures and Felicis Ventures.
There is no shortage of investors willing to take a chance on Clear Labs and its proprietary technology, which could have far-reaching applications to improve food safety, traceability and transparency across the food chain. Ensuring food safety is a top concern of government agencies, consumer advocacy groups and maybe most importantly, brands and retailers.
Lately, there seems to be an increasing amount of noise about verifying the authenticity of ingredients and the ability to trace their origins to prevent food fraud and make sure products are safe to consume. This could stem from the fact that 48 million Americans get sick each year from eating contaminated food, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, while at the same time the number of food recalls is on the rise.
“Year over year, recalls have increased not only in the food industry, but in other sectors as well. Last year, there were more than 3,400 recalls, an average of 9.4 a day,” Michael Good, vice president of commercial and client services with Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS, previously wrote in an email to Food Dive.
Given these kinds of staggering statistics, food companies and retailers could benefit from having advanced food testing systems and technology in place.
This is probably just the reason why Walmart, Kroger and numerous food suppliers such as Unilever, Nestle and Dole, among others, recently joined with IBM on a blockchain implementation to improve food traceability and test the budding technology across a widespread rollout. Blockchain gives food suppliers and retailers a way to manage incredibly complex supply chains and help track products in a matter of seconds rather than days in the case of foodborne illness outbreaks.
Whether blockchain technology or Clear Labs platform, these types of digital-first systems could be a potent tool during product recalls. Knowing exactly where a product has been distributed, and in what quantities, could help stores pull products from shelves faster. The technology applications also could enable brands and retailers to proactively share more information with shoppers about products they buy.
Transparency is important to today's food shoppers. Consumers expect companies to be forthcoming about issues including product ingredients, food sources, processing standards, sustainability and corporate responsibility. Transparency can make or break brands and retailers looking to build consumer trust and brand loyalty — an invaluable asset in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace.
- Project NOSH Clear Labs Lands $16M to Improve Food Safety
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