SAN MATEO, Calif. — Introducing Food In-Depth (FoodID), a scientific food testing startup working with forward-looking companies to enable food transparency and the authentication of brand label claims. Co-founded by natural meat pioneer Bill Niman, FoodID helps the people who supply, serve and sell meats and poultry to effectively and affordably test for antibiotics and other adulterants.
The bulk of food safety claims, such as “antibiotic-free”, “never-ever-antibiotic” and “hormone-free,” are based on producer assertions, and are not validated by actual testing. Until now, testing technologies have been unable to work at the speed and scale of the modern livestock system.
This is a big deal. Antibiotic resistant superbugs pose one of the biggest public health threats of our time. The excessive and improper use of antibiotics in livestock production is accelerating antimicrobial resistance. It is well accepted that curtailing antibiotic use in people and animals slows the threat of antimicrobial resistance and helps preserve the life-saving effectiveness of current and future drugs. Yet, according to Pew, 75-80 percent of all antibiotics globally are given to animals raised for food.
The FoodID platform tests for seven drug families representing 95 percent of the most common antibiotics and other adulterants administered via feed and water. It is rigorous, with sufficient sensitivity to detect low levels of substances. It is fast, working in near real-time at processing plant line speed. And it is 100x more affordable than comparable alternatives.
FoodID’s team of ranchers, scientists and technologists are dedicated to building a future where everyone knows what’s in their food. Bill Niman is joined by microbiologist and immunologist co-founder Dan Denney and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Lo, a technology leader and veteran of Facebook and Google. Board members include Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Whole Foods, and Chuck Templeton, founder and former CEO of OpenTable and managing director of S2G Ventures. Investors include S2G Ventures and OCA Ventures.
“For over 40 years, my mission has been to feed people delicious food from animals raised humanely, sensibly, and in an environmentally friendly manner. But while Americans are consuming more foods with label claims—and paying a premium for it—the claims are mostly unsubstantiated,” said co-founder Bill Niman. “This lack of testing troubled me because it meant people could not validate what was in their food. We founded FoodID to create full transparency and accountability in the food chain.”
“People deserve to know what’s in their food, and they’ve come to expect transparency from the products they buy and the companies they support,” said FoodID CEO Kevin Lo. “Until now, testing technologies have been unable to work at the speed and scale of the modern livestock system. Be on the lookout for the FoodID label, because it is your assurance that the meat you eat (or serve or sell) has been tested.”
FoodID is currently testing beef, pork and poultry in facilities in the US and Canada. Forward-looking partners include pasture-raised heirloom chicken producer Cooks Venture and clean meat provider Beretta Farms.
“We have read about misleading claims in agriculture for years along with concerns over antibiotic resistance. We know that many label claims are simply not true. It is vitally important to us to validate our claims of no antibiotics ever and Non-GMO with scientific data and now we can,” states Matt Wadiak, Cooks Venture founder and CEO. “Mislabeling is bad for people. Bad for the planet. And bad for farmers like us who work hard to raise good meat.”
“We invest in the future and believe in the huge opportunity for FoodID to increase food transparency and make testing of this nature the new norm,” said Chuck Templeton, managing director of S2G Ventures and founder and former CEO of OpenTable. “Now for the first time, with FoodID, the cost, speed and complexity of testing is not a barrier to its adoption across the food supply chain. FoodID helps to provide assurance and back up label claims, which will be a game-changer across the food system.”
What Others Have Said About FoodID
“We know that the overuse of antibiotics in meat production is leading to the evolution of antibiotic resistant microbes– the next pandemic could easily begin on an American feedlot. FoodID is a promising initiative to provide consumers with the information they need to make more informed choices. It should also put pressure on the industry to curb its reckless use of these precious medicines.”
– Michael Pollan, Author
“As a chef, I believe that we all should be able to access good, healthy food – nothing mysterious, nothing that we can’t understand. I want to know what’s in the food that I am buying and cooking for my family and at my restaurants. Even chefs and cooks, we sometimes have difficulty knowing if labels are telling the truth … but now thanks to Food ID, that’s changing!”.
– Jose Andres, Chef/Owner of ThinkFoodGroup
Kevin Lo, Chief Executive Officer
Technology leader. A veteran of Google and Facebook. Led Facebook’s efforts to connect the billions not online and was GM and Co-Founder of Google Fiber. A founder of two software companies and a public telecom services company COO, Kevin has an AB from Harvard University.
Bill Niman, Co-founder
Rancher, author, and natural food pioneer. Founder of Niman Ranch, Inc. and BN Ranch, Bill’s been called “a pioneer of the good meat movement” by the NY Times, the “Guru of Happy Cows” by the LA Times, and “the Steve Jobs of Meat” by Men’s Journal.
Dan Denney, Co-founder
Stanford Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology. Founded Genitope Corporation, a public biotechnology company. Recipient of the prestigious Merck Fellowship for Global Health, Dan holds patents for work related to the cancer drug Interferon.:
Joel Martin, Sr. Director Technical Operations
Animal Welfare authority for all segments of commercial beef, pork, chicken, and dairy production. A veteran of Chipotle.
Chuck Templeton, Board Member, Managing Director at S2G Ventures
Walter Robb, Board Member, Former Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market
FoodID is a scientific food testing company working with forward-looking companies to enable food transparency and the authentication of brand label claims. The FoodID platform tests for the presence of antibiotics and other adulterants in meats, including beef, poultry, and pork. The platform is comprehensive – testing for 7 drug families representing 95% of the most common antibiotics and other adulterants administered via feed and water. It is rigorous – with sufficient sensitivity to detect even low levels of substances. All while working in near real-time – at the speed of modern livestock production. We are ranchers, scientists, and technologists dedicated to building a future where everyone knows what’s in their food.