(Oct. 7) TOKYO — Leave it to the Japanese to come up with a solution to one blockade that has kept radio frequency identification technology from being used on fruits and vegetables.

Japanese electronics company Hitachi has developed an RFID chip small enough to be embedded nearly invisibly into food packaging or the inedible parts of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The chip measures only 0.4 mm-by-0.4 mm and has a tiny antenna that allows a device to read encoded information stored in the chip.

The original version of the chip has been around since 2001, but the company released a new version with the imbedded antenna in September.

The antenna allows the device to communicate with external devices such as scanners without the need of an external antenna.

Hitachi said in a news release that it plans to develop numerous markets for the chip, including use in agricultural products, helping to increase traceability throughout the food chain.

This advance could help RFID technology make the leap to the retail sales side of that chain, an area it has previously been unable to conquer for a variety of reasons.

Not the least of those reasons is consumer fears over the use of tracking technology beyond the store level.