Is Blockchain the Right Solution to Ensure Food Safety

blockchain for food safety

  • The pandemic, COVID-19, has shown that food safety is no longer a local or national problem. Indeed, it has proved that unsanitary activities can have global implications. The question, however, remains is whether we have developed instruments to ensure food safety?

    Nearly one in ten people fall ill each year after consuming tainted food. It results in 4,20,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. 

    We need initiatives at every touchpoint in the food industry. We need traceability solutions encompassing activities from farm to market to handle the problem of this size. One way to track and monitor the issue is to look at it as a problem with data. That’s where we get to use blockchain technology. In this post, we discover the potential of Hyperledger blockchain app development for the food industry to address the issues.

    Using Blockchain in the Food Industry

    Assume that in seconds, you could trace the origins of your food or that you could check whether the fruits you bought were organic. Shortly, with the blockchain solutions set to revolutionize the food industry, this could potentially happen. In several cases, here’s how the technology can help

    Food Safety

    Blockchain makes the food supply chain transparent and thereby enables the chain of food safety disaster prevention. It is one reason that corporations like Unilever and Nestle are considering adopting technologies like blockchain and smart contracts.

    Preventing Manipulation

    If the data obtained is free of any human error, it will also help to deter fraud. Collected information is also subject to hacking, inaccuracies, and mistakes. Blockchain implementation would help to avoid these problems. If someone tries to manipulate data, it will also aid in finding the culprit. It will, for example, prevent the kind of food fraud that occurred in 2016 in Canada.

    Fast Transactions

    A blockchain-based payment system can simplify the transaction process. It would help farmers sell more and be paid, as the demand data would be at their fingertips. It may also prohibit retroactive compensation and market manipulation from happening. Blockchain can ‘Uberize’ the agri-food industry. It does so by lowering transaction fees and eliminating intermediaries, according to Forbes.

    Also, Read | Assessing a Blockchain-based Traceability and Safety System for the Food Supply Chain

    In the Food Supply Chain Process, how Emerging Technology Empowers Participants 

    Producer

    Blockchain enables businesses to identify any changes to the goods in production. It is also true for distributors.

    Distributors

    With blockchain, stakeholders can identify and remove it if any defective product ends up on sale. 

    Consumer

    Blockchain enhances trust across stakeholders, including manufacturers and distributors, as goods carry an immutable label with the correct details.

    Also, Read | Modernizing Food Supply Chain with Blockchain | From Farm to Table

    Advantages of Blockchain for the Food Industry

    All supply chain participants will benefit from blockchain technology: suppliers, producers, advertisers, distributors, retailers, and regulators. Every attempt to exploit a food product as it moves through the supply chain is easily noticeable and preventive by the vendor before it reaches the customer.

    For supermarkets, stores may classify and remove only the dangerous goods if a potentially hazardous food product makes it to the shelves. It eliminates the need for expensive recalls of batches. 

    For customers, the history and route of an individual food item are instantly available. They can know how to maximize shelf life, reduce waste, enhance quality and sustainability, and make food safer. 

     A customer would want to know that what he’s eating is healthy and new to eat, so he’s going to be able to track when and where the tomatoes were harvested, delivered, and processed at breakfast.

    Also, Read | Blockchain Solutions in the Food Industry | Exploring Potential Use Cases

    Validation of Food Safety and Examples of Real-Time Surveillance 

    Assume that a retailer can check with 100 percent accuracy where each food commodity has been made, treated, made, packaged, and tested. There is the potential for blockchain technology to make this a possibility. Blockchain eliminates any inconsistencies in a food product’s transaction history, place, and status.

    For instance, if the merchant becomes aware of a potentially deadly watermelon problem, the blockchain network participants will expose the entire past of that melon and locate the cause of the problem. And the melon from that particular farm or batch can be recalled quickly where appropriate.

    How swiftly? In one scenario, Walmart wanted to investigate the traceability and validity of the food supply chain. Before using blockchain, Walmart tested how easily it could trace the mangoes back to their original farm in one of its stores. It nearly took a week. The blockchain took 2.2 seconds. Starbucks’ bean-to-cup initiative maps its coffee production and allegedly gives more financial freedom to coffee farmers from Rwanda, Colombia, and Costa Rica.

    Also, Read | Strengthening Food Supply Chain Safety with Blockchain Amid COVID-19

    A Use Case with Hyperledger | Tracking Food Sources

    It is a huge undertaking to ensure the protection and consistency of a large portion of the food supply. It is because accidents have occurred in recent decades. Subsequently, customers have become ill or died after consuming tainted food.

    In the food supply chain, IBM Food Trust uses Hyperledger Fabric to create unparalleled visibility and transparency. It is the only network of its kind that links farmers, processors, distributors, and distributors with food system data via a permitted, permanent and shared record.

    For more than a year, the IBM Food Trust network has been continuing pilot experiments with producers and food suppliers, including Golden State Foods, McCormick and Co., Nestlé, Tyson Foods, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. In partnership with IBM, these companies formed a partnership to use their food safety platform to secure customers and raise trust in the food supply.

    The solution provides licensed users with instant access to actionable food supply chain data from farm to store. With blockchain, a complete history of the past and present locations of each food object becomes available. Also, related details such as credentials, test results, and temperature data, are readily accessible in seconds.

    Also, Read | Analyzing the Food Safety and Traceability System Developed by Walmart with Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain

    Using a Permissioned Blockchain Solution

    Even if the data is open to the public, ownership remains. A user can regulate who has access to their data with a Hyperledger-powered authorization blockchain. Before and after the data is submitted, it is the individual who owns the data. The user alone controls who can see the data.

About Author

Mudit Kumar (Writer)

Mudit has been working with Oodles since 2017. He writes about technologies that not only disrupt the digital space but also influence the physical world. Initially, he explored revolutionary technologies like ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and AI (Artificial Intelligence). Now, he focuses on unfolding the elements of blockchain technology, given its potential and edge over others.


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