Development and characterization of food-grade tracers for the global grain tracing and recall system. Academic Article uri icon


  • Tracing grain from the farm to its final processing destination as it moves through multiple grain-handling systems, storage bins, and bulk carriers presents numerous challenges to existing record-keeping systems. This study examines the suitability of coded caplets to trace grain, in particular, to evaluate methodology to test tracers' ability to withstand the rigors of a commercial grain handling and storage systems as defined by physical properties using measurement technology commonly applied to assess grain hardness and end-use properties. Three types of tracers to dispense into bulk grains for tracing the grain back to its field of origin were developed using three food-grade substances [processed sugar, pregelatinized starch, and silicified microcrystalline cellulose (SMCC)] as a major component in formulations. Due to a different functionality of formulations, the manufacturing process conditions varied for each tracer type, resulting in unique variations in surface roughness, weight, dimensions, and physical and spectroscopic properties before and after coating. The applied two types of coating [pregelatinized starch and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose (HPMC)] using an aqueous coating system containing appropriate plasticizers showed uniform coverage and clear coating. Coating appeared to act as a barrier against moisture penetration, to protect against mechanical damage of the surface of the tracers, and to improve the mechanical strength of tracers. The results of analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests showed the type of tracer, coating material, conditioning time, and a theoretical weight gain significantly influenced the morphological and physical properties of tracers. Optimization of these factors needs to be pursued to produce desirable tracers with consistent quality and performance when they flow with bulk grains throughout the grain marketing channels.

published proceedings

  • J Agric Food Chem

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Lee, K., Armstrong, P. R., Thomasson, J. A., Sui, R., Casada, M., & Herrman, T. J.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Lee, Kyung-Min||Armstrong, Paul R||Thomasson, J Alex||Sui, Ruixiu||Casada, Mark||Herrman, Timothy J

publication date

  • October 2010