blockchain (6)

Using blockchain in the food chain has the potential to improve traceability of the supply chain, enabling users to view the relevant data digitally, remove duplication in reporting and paperwork, and use smart contracts to ensure the process is automated where feasible. Then, all of this drives speed of moving data through the system, so recalls could be managed in minutes rather than weeks, and suppliers can be paid immediately. In this article New Food’s Editor, Bethan Grylls discusses with Julie Pierce, Director of Openness, Data & Digital at the FSA how this technology has been used so far and whether it is trustworthy. 

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In an effort to boost consumption of tea and consumer confidence, the Indian Tea Board has been considering using blockchain technology to ensure traceability along the supply chain from tea plantation to auction and retail sale. It is hoped that this will prevent adulteration and reduce lower quality tea being sold, which has had an impact on consumer confidence and consumption. Examples of this are the use of added dyes to hide poor quality and increase the 'glossiness' of tea, and the large scale sale of cheaper Nepalese tea sold as the more expensive Indian Darjeeling tea. Blockchain would permit consumers to access information as to the origin of the tea in terms of region or garden, and know that the integrity of the tea has been preserved.

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Ecuadorian prawn producers, who are members of the Sustainable Shrimp Partnership (SSP), have teamed up with the Food Trust ecosystem, which will provide a blockchain database to safeguard traceability and integrity from farm to fork so that consumers can have complete trust and assurance on what they are buying. SSP’s members, which comprise of responsible prawn producers based in Ecuador, will enter data about how the prawn is produced onto the blockchain system. Ultimately, retailers around the world will be able to see this data and trace it at every stage so that they can ensure the quality of the prawn they are selling to consumers. SSP plans to enable consumer access via an app, enabling individuals to view provenance data about the prawns they buy.

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NSF International, working with a retailer, are launching a blockchain traceability service for the beef supply chain. The service will link details of individual cattle on farms all the way through to consumer purchases. Each animal will be given a unique identifier built into a RFID ear tag, along with a sample of DNA and its GPS farm location. As the animal matures, details of its weight and age are entered into the blockchain database, with all the other details as it is processed along the supply chain. This will allow all the supply chain partners to access the blockchain database to improve transparency and traceability. Information about an animal's provenance and quality will even be available to consumers via a mobile phone app and QR code on the pack of beef.   

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Blockchain has demonstrated its potential for providing greater transparency, veracity, and trust in food information so that supply chain members can act immediately, should problems arise
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Blockchain technology has the potential to transform the food industry and provide a new way of dealing with food safety and food fraud. This article by Sterling Crew is taken from his article in March edition of Food Science and Technology (free on line for IFST members). It examines its application to enhance transparency, tracking and traceability in the food supply chain, and considers how it could help to build consumer confidence and  give a more secure food supply system.

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