A new data infrastructure with blockchain technology could revolutionize our food supply chain in the near future.
This new system, if widely implemented, could prevent contaminant outbreaks like the recent romaine lettuce scare, which has already infected 54 people from 12 states.1
Today’s Supply Chain = Fragmented Data Infrastructure
What is data infrastructure? Data infrastructure is a local or networked platform that allows data to be captured, stored, accessed, and transformed.
From farm to manufacturer, distributor to store shelves, and finally to your table — today’s food supply chain operates on a massive scale with many participants involved. Each contributor to the supply chain is only required to record their own involvement, inclusive of where the goods came from before reaching their facility and where the goods went to upon leaving.2
This approach has created a fragmented data infrastructure, with record format, storage and access managed by each individual contributor in their own preferred way. Lack of standardization and database connectivity makes traceability slow and difficult.
When the e-coli romaine lettuce outbreak occurred in summer of 2018, it infected 210 people — killing five — and took almost three months to end. 36 states had reported cases by the time the source was identified through a combination of epidemiologic, laboratory and traceback investigations.3
Could the outbreak have been contained and the public been kept safe if a data infrastructure operating with blockchain had been employed?
A More Responsible Approach with Standardized Data Infrastructure and Blockchain
What is blockchain? A list of digital records secured using a combination of cryptography and peer-to-peer validation.
Walmart and IBM, along with a number of food industry leaders are teaming up4 to create a smarter approach to the supply chain with three key components:
- A standardized data structure used by all contributors to open communication and traceability along the supply chain
- Decentralized databases to allow infrastructure cost and maintenance to be shared across supply chain contributors
- A blockchain-enabled ledger sitting across databases to securely record along the supply chain
Leading organizations are hopeful that by pushing the adoption of blockchain, all participants will have more visibility into the system as a whole. That ultimately will lead to more accountability and greater responsibility on the part of everyone involved.
Check out our infographic to see how data + blockchain can make our holiday meals safer.
You might also be interested in these additional applications of blockchain:
- Will Gamers be next to Get on the Blockchain?
- The Internet of the Future Might Run on Blockchain
- Reimagining Loyalty Programs with Blockchain
At Bloomberg’s Value of Data conference, sponsored by Western Digital and hosted in New York, experts spoke in depth about how blockchain, standardized data and decentralized databases can make our food supply safer. Click here for highlights from the event.
- CDC Romaine Outbreak Stats
- Supply Chain Records Requirement
- E-Coli Romaine Lettuce Stats
- Food and Tech teaming up