The food industry is core to the lives of mankind. Although we now have better food from the advance development of knowledge and methodology, yet many below standard foods still cause human sickness and take their lives. WHO mentioned in 2015 that 1 in 10 of the world population falls ill after consuming contaminated food. Of these, over 100,000 people die each year.
More people in the world means more load on the food industry as it needs to expand to bear the increasing number of mouths to feed. Thus, the traditional way of monitoring may not be sufficient and fast enough. This has ignited the use of a data management system well known for its credibility and speed called the Blockchain. What is the concept and how can it help make food safer. Let’s take a look.
How does Blockchain make food safe?
Blockchain resembles an empty box that can be filled with anything. In terms of its application, Paul has clearly explained at the Faster Future Forum 2018, click here for more details.
For food safety, it is as simple as loading all the food sources data into the Blockchain. With its decentralized capability, consumers can access the data faster and be more precise than ever before.
We can record the entire data of the food from the beginning of the supply chain until it reaches the shelves in the Blockchain. The data can include watering time of the plantation, type of feed, fertilizer, or herbicide. Also, more information can include the location of the plantation, how it was harvested, trucks used to transport from farm to factory, factory management, temperature while transporting, to where the product is placed in the store.
All this information can be tracked via the Blockchain where they are connected. The consumer can know that the vegetable they are buying comes from which position, from which plantation, in which province. Also, they can know when it was harvested, was pesticide or fertilizer used, and when it was transported to the store. All these data can be accessed in various ways.
Today, giant manufacturers and sellers of consumer products in the world have begun using Blockchain to gather food data. For instance, Walmart is testing the system wherein buyers can access the supply chain data of their meal in 2.2 seconds using QR codes. When compared to the traditional way which uses a week to trace back each product, Blockchain is quite great at its job.
The ability the confirm the source helps to quickly solve errors in the manufacturing process. If the food is contaminated from the factory, we can quickly and precisely trace back to the source of the problem and to where the food from this factory has been distributed. Through the data stored in the Blockchain, all the contaminated food can be removed from the shelves in minutes.
Upgrade food standard in the digital trust era
Today, food standard is identified by a central department. The problem remains not at the standards used but rather at the enormous quantity exceeding monitoring capability. One below standard food can cause prolonged illness or even death. Therefore, Blockchain is suitable for storing the data of food which are massively manufactured each day.
The monitoring entity can access the data of each product from the beginning to the end of its supply chain. They merely need to signify what type of detail manufacturers need to provide. Data in the Blockchain can also be made public for consumers to track.
Aside from making the central department’s job simpler, farmers can also view the process and where their products are distributed. This can help stimulate quality development from the farm in an attempt to attract more customers.
Today, startups openly incorporate Blockchain into the food industry. For instance, OriginTrail provides buyers with information from shelve to farm and AgUnity by David Davies, one of the international speakers at the Faster Future Forum 2018, uses Blockchain to solve food scarcity from its source by joining hands with farmers. It turns out that quality has improved while also helping to solve congested problems for the farmers.
There are so many benefits that we want to use it now! However, there are still limitations to be solved.
We have discussed only the advantages of the Blockchain. Let us have a look at its limitations. What may hinder Blockchain from advancing forward?
- Entrepreneurs may not be ready to make all their business secrets public. Yet this practice is needed for standard monitoring.
- The process of storing data into the Blockchain still requires further development to prevent data distortion in the beginning stage.
- If Blockchain data isn’t made public, large players in the market may attempt to distort the data in the Blockchain to persecute or oppress small players in the supply chain.
- The Blockchain is merely a data recording system that is systematic, secure, immutable, and works with speed. However, additional problem-solving in various situations will still depend on exterior processes.
As we can see, most concerns are on the exterior factors regarding the process. Yet these issues need to be solved in order to be able to use Blockchain efficiently in accordance with its core objective, which is to ensure food safety.
Next steps for Blockchain in the food industry and what’s in it for the consumers.
Undeniably, the idea of incorporating Blockchain to the food industry data management will surely reduce the hassle. However, embracing a new system requires additional learning and determining new guidelines. For instance, we need to establish regulations that are suitable for data recording. The agreement to publicize data without affecting the business will need to be further discussed.
Furthermore, other spin-offs for Blockchain in the food industry proves to be quite promising. This includes AI as well as robots that connect to the Blockchain to manage expired food or other defects by themselves. Also, technology such as the Internet of Things in homes can access Blockchain to monitor the quality of food in the fridge and suggest related products.
In summary, although Blockchain needs further development until it can fully support businesses and perform its full capacity, it has high potential that will surely make our food safer. Follow here us for more Blockchain updates.