Walmart urges suppliers to contribute to the blockchain database

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27 Sep 2018 — Rapidly identifying potential food contamination is one of the main virtues of blockchain: this is why US retail giant Walmart praises the benefits of lettuce and spinach monitoring through the supply chain using this rapid technology growth. The move is aimed at seriously increasing food security following the outbreaks of E. coli in Roman lettuce and salmonella in a number of products from eggs to breakfast cereals.

The scale of the food system is so large, it is virtually impossible to follow for any single entity, but the blockchain changes and can increase trust, traceability and security in the supply chain.

Walmart and Sam & # 39; s Club invite lettuce and spinach suppliers to contribute to a blockchain database that can identify contamination quickly and efficiently. The suppliers received a letter requesting that they trace their products back to the farm using blockchain technology. Walmart says that suppliers should have all these systems in place by next year.

Click to enlarge
Walmart and Sam & # 39; s Club are urging lettuce and
spinach suppliers to contribute to a blockchain database.

The open letter says: "We are committed to providing our customers with safe and convenient food, and since food safety is a shared responsibility, one way we achieve this is through collaboration with our suppliers, which is why Walmart is announcing a new initiative. for the traceability of Walmart-based blockchain food products that will increase transparency in the food system and create a shared value for the entire leafy green of the farm up to the continuous table ".

Walmart explains how this year, the United States has experienced a large multi-layered outbreak of IS coli O157: H7 linked to Roman lettuce and the epidemic has caused 210 confirmed cases, causing 96 hospitalizations and five deaths.

Although the FDA and the CDC were able to inform consumers, producers and retailers that the disease-related Roma lettuce came from the growing Yuma region, in general, health officials and professionals in the sector were not able to quickly determine which lots they were interested and which were not.

This has led to the removal of millions of sacks and cans of romaine from the market and a loss of consumer confidence in Roman lettuce, regardless of the growing region, as well as negatively affecting the economic livelihood of many, including farmers.
Walmart says that the current "one-step-one-step-back" model of food traceability is outdated and working together with its suppliers, tracking models can be much improved.

"There is no doubt that there is a strong case of public health and business for better traceability of food. By rapidly tracing green leafy vegetables during an outbreak using recent advances in new and emerging technologies, impacts on Human health can be kept to a minimum, health officials can conduct a quick root analysis of root causes to inform future prevention efforts and the implications and associated losses of unaltered products that are inaccurately related to a outbreak can be avoided ", continues the letter.

Walmart has been experimenting with new technologies in collaboration with numerous suppliers and IBM over the last 18 months to demonstrate that significant improvements to food traceability are possible.

"Using the blockchain-based IBM Food Trust network, we have shown that we can reduce the amount of time it takes to keep track of a Walmart store's food back to its source in seconds, compared to days or sometimes weeks."

Walmart Food Traceability Initiative – How does blockchain work?
Walmart says that all green leafy vegetable suppliers should be able to track their products on farms (depending on the production lot) in seconds, not days. To do so, suppliers will be required to acquire digital, end-to-end tracking information using the IBM Food Trust network.

It will probably work with other suppliers and so Walmart is introducing two steps:
• Direct suppliers
– Direct suppliers are required to comply with one-pass traceability on the blockchain network by 31 January 2019.
• From one end to the other – subsequently, the Walmart suppliers should work within their vertical systems or with their suppliers to allow end-to-end traceability in the company by 30 September 2019.

Click to enlarge
Walmart says that all suppliers of green leafy vegetables should be able to do so
to track their products farm(s) (per production batch) in seconds.

Walmart has worked closely with IBM and other food companies to create an easy-to-use, low-cost blockchain traceability solution that meets its requirements and "creates shared value for the entire green leafy farm go on".

Blockchain is a storage system that is open to users. When data (or blocks) are placed in the chain, other computers on the network are notified that make information falsification very difficult, since the information change is open to everyone.

The information can be acquired in the company with a portable system and can be captured at the supplier at the collection point.

Blockchain is considered a turning point in terms of contamination and traceability of food because it is so precise and reliable. Instead of taking a week to track vital information about Salmonella potential in a product, tracking blockchain takes only a couple of seconds.

"Increased ability to track down contaminated food to its source will help government agencies and companies identify the source of a food-borne epidemic, coordinate more effective calls for foods deemed to be contaminated, and learn where the problems of the past began. We believe these steps will strengthen future prevention efforts and better protect public health from the threat of foodborne diseases, "said Robert Tauxe, MD, director of the CDC division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases.

FoodIngredientsFirst He previously covered several ways in which the food industry can harness the power of blockchain technology. Read more here and here.

By Gaynor Selby

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