WHAT IS THE HYPE?
For a few years, companies like IBM and Walmart have taken extreme efforts to solve a problem - quicker recall execution. Why is this so beneficial*? Well, bottom line, blockchain platforms have the capability of identifying the source of a food that is being sold on to consumers faster. And that means getting contaminated food off the retail shelves faster. Find more details about this project in this article.
*Note that it does not solve the food safety event. It reacts to it.
WHAT FOOD SAFETY IS AND IS NOT
As several of my food professional colleagues on LinkedIN will tell you, food safety is not transparency and it is not traceability. Food safety is proactively making sure the food supply IS safe by incorporating procedures that either protect the food from adulteration and contamination or administer a kill-step to reduce the amount of bacteria present in the food. Regulations that are in place in most countries have specific food codes that food production companies must abide to. These procedures are meant to prevent contaminated foods from being produced, so they are never distributed into the supply chain.
WHY SUPPORT BLOCKCHAIN?
As I have mentioned in a November 2018 blog, blockchain technology is not going away. The large retail and food service companies will still find value in having the ability to remove product from distribution faster. Walmart had gone through the exercise with mangos and was able to take a 7 day paperwork process to 2 seconds. That is important to implement to prevent consumers from getting sick and protect the companies that are selling that product.
It must be said though that a LOT of collaborative work MUST happen before blockchain will solve quick recall execution. Food supply chains are very complex - just ask a produce company. There is not a single answer for how to manage supply chain information. If there was, food producers would not have a different vendor management system to provide information to for every customer that they work with - you know what I'm talking about here. And that is another reason to support the efforts - the idea of having a single location to upload information to that is accessible to the customers that need the information is very appealing, right? It might be years down the road, but it's definitely worth the effort to assist that process.
A few upcoming events and resources that you might be interested in that will be discussing blockchain in the food industry are below:
Our very own, Jennifer Crandall will be facilitating a panel during this event in San Francisco. Also, there will be a 3iVerify workshop scheduled nearby to make it worth your while.
3. GFSI tackles the topic