How Walmart is Innovating Food Safety with Blockchain Technology

When it comes to food safety, innovative solutions can mean the difference between a hiccup and a crisis. Recently, Walmart teamed up with IBM to be among the first major pioneering retailers to use advanced blockchain technology to address – and improve upon – food safety.

IBM Blockchain – an open, distributed ledger that records transactions between multiple parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way – allows retailers and growers to optimize their business transactions and trading relationships with robustly secure business networks both at scale and globally. The benefit of this is that transactions that used to take days to trace now take only seconds.

Blockchain is on the case

If you’re a retailer of perishables like produce, you can imagine how beneficial blockchain might be. Blockchain technology allows innovative retailers like Walmart to connect growers, processors, distributors, suppliers and regulators with a shared insight into their transaction histories. The benefits are immense – not only does this transparency allow enhanced visibility and accountability throughout the supply chain, but suddenly getting to the source of contamination is lightyears easier. blockchain technology

Walmart is the world’s largest brick-and-mortar grocer, so it makes sense that they would take the lead on this issue. Working with IBM, they’re using the IBM Food Trust Solution. Today, retailers keep their own records, but Walmart now requires all suppliers of leafy green vegetables to upload their data to the blockchain for enhanced transparency.

In a global market, a supply chain might stretch across oceans and continents. That leaves a lot of opportunities for contamination — and a nightmare of an investigation, with paperwork that can go on for miles.  Walmart’s IBM Food Trust Solution can nip produce contamination in the bud (pun intended).

New technologies play a critical role in food safety

Food safety plays a critical role in the supply chain, and it can be an overwhelming job to monitor when problems arise – as evidenced by a recent recall on ground turkey by Jennie-O. As of November of this year, 164 people have been infected with salmonella in 35 states due to the outbreak (which began over a year ago). The challenge is that despite the outbreak beginning in 2017, the CDC hasn’t been able to identify a single supplier of the raw turkey products responsible for the outbreak yet. Walmart’s integration of blockchain technology speeds up the investigative process in situations like this, which greatly benefits public health and can literally save lives – and that’s an idea we can all get behind.

To learn more about how blockchain technology is making the world’s food supply chain safer, more efficient and more sustainable, visit IBM’s Food Trust website.

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