Wal-Mart Tests Blockchain System to Improve Food Safety

By Daniel Zo Blockchain, Walmart, USA

During the last couple of months, we’ve often talked about the potential of the blockchain network, and how it could change the financial system, alongside with numerous administrational processes.

Yet, we never mentioned the influence that the blockchain network could have on the food we eat, where and when we buy it, but also on how we consume it. In fact, there are numerous reports stating that Wal-Mart is experimenting with blockchain technology, and wishes to change the way it serves over 260 million people on a weekly basis.

With this in mind, reports indicate that Wal-Mart is trying to develop a system meant to monitor food, and automatically take action whenever something goes wrong. If applied correctly, then this system will surely improve food safety throughout the country, reduce costs and save numerous lives.

Based on this, just like many other retailers, Wal-Mart is facing trouble when it comes down to identifying and removing food that has already been recalled. In fact, when customers get sick, it often takes over 2-3 days for retailers to identify the product in question, and stop the shipment and sale of the food. However, with the help of a blockchain implementation, Wal-Mart will be able to obtain most of its data from a single buyer receipt. Some of these data includes the supplier, shipment, where the food was grown, and even who inspected it.

In return, the detailed information will allow retailers to just pull the tainted packaged of altered food, rather than the entire product from their hundreds of stores, thus drastically reducing costs as well. The vice-president of food safety at a Wal-Mart store stated that: “With blockchain, you can do strategic removals, and let consumers and companies have confidence (…) we believe that enhanced traceability is good for other aspects of the food systems. We hope you could capture other important attributes that would inform decisions around food flows, and even get more efficient at it.”

At this moment in time, most people are unware of how many foodborne outbreaks there are yearly. Recent reports indicate that over 1,000 of these foodborne outbreaks are investigated each year, and that around 48 million people are affected, out of which around 128,000 are hospitalized, and around 3,000 die.

The implementation of such a measure will not only make investigating food issues considerably easier, but it will also drastically reduce the number of people affected by consuming altered food in Wal-Mart stores.

The experiment first began with a packaged produce item in the United States, and pork over in China. Indeed, only two items were tacked and tested, yet the effort involved the testing of thousands of packages, being shipped to various stores throughout the country.

Based on everything that has been outlined so far, what do you personally think about Wal-Mart’s food safety blockchain-based implementation? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.