- The FDA wants to replace the paper-based tracking system with blockchain technology
- FDA Deputy Commissioner believes this would allow complete traceability of the entire food chain
- In the case of foodborne illnesses, the source can be identified quickly to prevent further harm
These days, the quality of food is a very important factor for any businesses in the food industry. There is a constant rise in the demand for transparency, and if the authenticity of the ingredients can be guaranteed, consumers end up having more confidence in their food purchase.
All of this can be achieved without any difficulty with the application of blockchain technology. Tracking a supply is just the tip of the iceberg. FedTech Magazine recently reported that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is using blockchain technology to better the procurement process and provide the official in charge with much-enhanced visibility into the agency’s acquisition function. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, wants it for a much urgent cause: ensuring that food doesn’t harm the public’s health.
Blockchain is the Much-Needed Upgrade
As of now, the FDA and most other institutions and businesses have been using a paper-based system to track food from its source to the warehouse and up to the stores. According to Frank Yiannas, FDA’s deputy commissioner, this limits the information available to the inspectors as they can mostly be able to go one location back and one ahead on the chain of the food supply. This is a time-consuming process and is not efficient as well. During cases of outbreaks of food-borne illnesses, this could risk everything. Despite the food system being safe, there is room for error and these mishaps happen sometimes.
After a previous outbreak, The FDA released a statement to call for a “new era of smarter food safety” and planned on implementing a process that utilizes data from every point of the food supply chain to make the entire process more transparent and error-free. This called for a shift in focus towards traceability, digital technologies and developing better food tracking models. This is where the blockchain technology steps in.
“What we are after is more transparency in the food system. By creating this digital footprint, you can shine a light on all the different stakeholders in the food system and really create transparency,” Yiannas said. “I persuaded them that technologies like blockchain could do for food traceability what the internet did for communication.”
The Revolution has Already Begun
Various private sectors are already testing and some even using blockchain tools to track the food supply. For instance, VeChain, a distributed ledger technology project that claims to be focused on connecting blockchain technology to the supply chain space through DLT-based solutions has recently been working with Walmart for food traceability.
IOTA, another blockchain based project is working on tracking food allergens via blockchain. This shows how quickly the industry is evolving with the help of blockchain technology.
Commenting on the integration of blockchain technology in the food industry, Yiannas said:
“I believe if the government steps up and says, these are the standards, the data attributes that have to be traced, it makes it easy for private solutions to scale and not have to create their own standards.”