Esther Rabinovitz is visiting her student brother in Boston. They have just entered an American diner where she has ordered a good old hamburger and fries. The waiter now arrives with their plates. Esther thanks him and starts rummaging in her handbag. After a few seconds, it emerges: The Instant DNA Scanner (IDS). Her brother thinks it’s hilarious, but Esther does not share his sentiment. “We can all do with a little peace of mind,” she says.
In 2013, when investigators found horse or donkey and pork DNA in so-called 100% pure beef products, Esther and many others, decided that they cannot and will not trust the big food companies any longer. There is a growing belief that individuals are solely responsible for their health and well-being. The mantra of this growing group of skeptical and dissatisfied consumers seems to be: “No one is looking out for me, I must do it myself.”
It is for these reasons that people like Esther are buying their own pocket-sized DNA scanners. With the IDS you can verify the integrity of your food within three minutes. It is also possible to test for veterinary drugs that aren’t suited for human consumption or bacteria like E. coli.
The market introduction of the IDS is an absolute nightmare for food conglomerates. Consulting firms like McKinsey & Company have long been talking about ‘transparency’ as the main quality that businesses will need to have in the future, but now the future has arrived a lot quicker than expected.
The balance of power has shifted towards the consumer and it will be much harder for companies to survive if they aren’t running squeaky-clean operations. Sure, for now consumers are only able to identify what is really on their plates, but this is just the beginning.