What Role Does Blockchain Play in Food Safety?
“One in ten people around the world become ill due to food-borne diseases, of which 420 000 die.” (World Health Organization). How the use of blockchain in food safety can change this sad fact!
The same partnership that is being used to strengthen currencies and reduce fraud is becoming more public as the food industry turns to this same technology. Yes, we’re talking about blockchain, and how it is changing the face of food safety. (It turns out that agricultural fraud is as hard to detect as credit card fraud.)
First things first, let’s clear up the name. Blockchain references the basic method of data storage. The block, is the digital information, which is stored in a public database – the chain and what have we got? Blockchain!
What is Blockchain?
In short, blockchain is a record-keeping technology. Bitcoin is based on this detailed technology because it needs a ‘distributed, decentralized public ledger’, which is the definition of blockchain.
The blocks are created by pieces if digital information with three parts:
- Date, time and purchase amount
- A digital signature – similar to a username
- A unique, distinguishing code called a ‘hash’
A single block can store up to 1 MB of data. As soon as a block stores new data, it is added to the chain, but four things must occur before it is added:
- A Transaction
- Stored to a block
- A unique identification code applied
We did say blockchain is basically a public ledger, which means anyone can see it.
Before you break out in a sweat, understand that user ID is limited to a digital signature only. The beauty of this is that each computer in the blockchain network has its own copy of the blockchain. Why is that a good thing?
Let’s take the case of bitcoin again. There are millions of copies of the same blockchain for its 5 million computers, each with exactly the same information in each block. It is a hacker’s worst nightmare because there isn’t a solitary, definitive account of events for them to manipulate. He, or she, would have to get to every copy of the blockchain across the entire network. ‘Hidden in plain sight’ and ‘safe as houses’ comes to mind.
The Link Between Blockchain and Food Safety
Consumers purchasing a package labelled “Beef” only has a 50-50 chance that it is. Evidence shows that is may easily contain camel, horse, rat or dog meat. Is ignorance bliss in this event? Not at all. It’s one thing duping consumers but it’s a whole other issue making them ill. Organisms and bacteria extremely harmful to humans are found in such mislabelled products. And don’t think the issue is limited to meats – crops are similarly being fraudulently represented and ‘organic’ labelled such without foundation.
Enter blockchain technology. What would have taken days or weeks to trace and track a product back to its source is done in seconds for groups who are implementing the blockchain system.
It’s disturbing to learn that a certain brand of cold meats has been recalled. And now we see little printed notices in the refrigeration section of your favourite shop telling you which products are clean (and that you won’t die if you buy them.) The millions in loss for retailers is scarcely calculable.
The advantage of blockchain is that everyone in the blockchain network knows where the food is coming from and when there is a breakout on the go. Should anything have been discovered, alerts on specific food items can be placed so everybody and his wife know there’s something amiss.
Nipping it in the bud like this averts all the chaos and ill effects that keep tripping up the food industry.
There are simply no disadvantages to any food and beverage industry in linking up with the blockchain network. It means vineyards can’t sell cheap plonk in bottles whose labels promise fine wine.
Just when you thought it was all about retailers, the cherry on the top is that smartphone readable code stickers on the products mean that we, as consumers can assure ourselves that we are buying what we think we’re buying. For those conspiracy theorists out there, the stickers are also counterfeit-proof!
According to a Gartner study, “20% of top global grocers will use blockchain for food safety and traceability by 2025.” Reading this article is hopefully creating a desire to get on board with blockchain technology sooner rather than later.
We understand if you’re feeling overwhelmed. We can do all the hard work for you, prepare you and ease you into what you really need so that you’re not left behind to suffer consequences.
Contact us via https://hugeconnect.co.za/