Food safety has been in the public eye: 2018 has already seen a large outbreak of E. coli in romaine lettuce and Salmonella in a number of products from eggs to breakfast cereal.
That is why Walmart Asks Suppliers of Leafy Greens to Use Blockchain.
In fact, Walmart sent a letter to suppliers of fresh, leafy greens asking them to trace their products all the way back to the farm using blockchain technology. Suppliers are expected to have all these systems in place by this time next year.
This change means that the information gathered by these suppliers will be open and accessible through technology that offers real-time, end-to-end traceability from farm to table. Blockchain allows for digitized sharing of data in a secure and trusted way.
This year, many customers and grocers were forced to throw away large amounts of romaine lettuce when an E. coli contamination in romaine lettuce spread through the food industry. Health officials at the Centers for Disease Control told Americans to avoid eating lettuce that was grown in Yuma, Arizona.
“But it was difficult for consumers to know how to determine where their lettuce was grown,” explained Frank Yiannas, VP of Food Safety at Walmart.
“None of the bags of salad had ‘Yuma, Arizona’ on them,” he said. “In the future, using the technology we’re requiring, a customer could potentially scan a bag of salad and know with certainty where it came from.”
It’s crucial to respond quickly and accurately to food safety issues like these. But with the traditional paper-based method of capturing information that exists at many farms, packing houses and warehouses, tracking down important data from multiple sources is extremely time-consuming.
However, Blockchain changes everything as Yiannas explained “We’ve been working with IBM to digitize that, so the information is captured on the farm with a handheld system. It’s [also] captured at the packing house at the supplier.”
Walmart plans to use the power of blockchain to speed up identifying, researching and reacting to food safety situations. Today’s news is the first step of bringing the benefits of open and transparent information to the food industry.