Several major food companies and retailers, including Tyson Foods, Nestlé, Dole, Kroger, and Walmart, are partnering with IBM to test whether blockchain technology, the tamper-proof, cryptography-based recordkeeping system behind Bitcoin and other cyber-currencies, can be used to ensure the integrity of the global food safety distribution chain.
You Might Also Like
Explore this issueOctober/November 2017
Also by this Author
Because production and distribution records maintained by blockchain cannot be falsified without leaving an evidentiary trail, food producers and regulators could use it to quickly trace food products back to their source, allowing for fast recall and removal in case of contamination or fraud.
For example, it took FDA more than two months to identify the source of Salmonella-tainted Maradol papayas, which have thus far sickened more than 200 people in 23 states, resulting in 65 hospitalizations and one death. Had blockchain been used to create a digital ledger of the distribution chain, the farm in southern Mexico could have been identified within a matter of seconds.
“In the case of the global food supply chain, all participants—growers, suppliers, processors, distributors, retailers, regulators, and consumers—can gain permissioned access to known and trusted information regarding the origin and state of food for their transactions,” IBM said in a statement announcing the food safety collaboration in August.
In addition to Tyson Foods, Nestlé, Dole, Walmart, and Kroger, other companies in the collaboration include Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, McCormick and Co., McLane Co., and Unilever. They will work with IBM to identify new areas where the global food supply chain can benefit from blockchain.
“Unlike any technology before it, blockchain is transforming the way like-minded organizations come together and enabling a new level of trust based on a single view of the truth,” says Marie Wieck, general manager of IBM Blockchain.| | | Next → | Single Page
About Ted Agres
Ted Agres is an award-winning writer who covers food safety regulatory and legislative issues from the nation’s capital in the Washington Report column. He has 40 years of experience in reporting on issues such as health policy, medical technology, and pharmaceutical development. He holds an MBA from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago. He enjoys playing the piano, amateur radio, and paintball. He lives in Laurel, MD. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.