Blockchain and the Food Industry
There might not be any bigger buzzword out there right now than blockchain, perhaps because of its connection to Bitcoin. Companies are even adding it to their name and watching their stock price skyrocket. But what is blockchain? And what could its impact be on the food industry?
Simply speaking, blockchain is a digital record that can track a product (or list of ingredients for a product) from beginning to end with date/time stamps. And because the records are linked to one another, it creates a “chain” that details the life of the product. and “chained” to the one before it. And because it’s distributed digitally, there are multiple copies, and each amendment is verified independently verified against more than one copy. This makes blockchain data very easy to share, and very difficult to alter, reducing the chance of inaccuracies or fraud.
Coupling concerns for food safety with consumers’ desires for label transparency sets blockchain technology up to make a huge impact in supply chain management. And since supply chain transparency is one of the tenets of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) it could be key in helping food manufacturers avoid or pinpoint food recalls.
Currently, FSMA requires food manufacturers to take a “one-up, one-back” approach, which means you know the last place your product (or ingredients) were before you got them and you know the next place your product is going. Unfortunately, with some food recalls, the one up and one back approach doesn’t catch problems that are two or more steps away.
With blockchain, everyone can see the transaction records of a product, all the way back to the very beginning. It’s like a digital diary of the product from beginning to end. Imagine being able to trace the dry-aged steak in a fancy restaurant all the way back to the steer it came from. Or the batch of berries in your morning smoothie to the field where they grew, with every stop noted along the way. Even data like storage temperatures and harvesting methods can be noted.
Blockchain could be the biggest boon to food safety since JBT-Avure HPP!