Science

Walmart Forces Salad Suppliers to Use Blockchain. You Won’t Guess Why!

No one anticipated the popularity of Bitcoin or Crypto Kitties and they most definitely did not see this one coming! Soon enough you’ll be able to trace the origins of your salad and other leafy greens from Walmart to their supplier or grower, all using the magic that’s blockchain. Why? It’s because of the recent E.coli outbreak in romaine lettuce, which affected more than 200 people in 36 states.

Walmart partnered up with IBM, who has been at the forefront of product tracking using blockchain solutions, to find a way to follow foods from the grower’s door and right up until they reach the customer. Walmart also posted a pretty astounding open letter to its leafy greens suppliers, telling them that, by this time next year, they will have to trace all their products “all the way back to the farm” using blockchain tech.

It seems like a short deadline but, as shown by the recent E.coli outbreak, the food industry needs to get better ways of tracing products back to their source. The CDC warning Americans to avoid eating lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona is one example of confusion and wasted food, as those lettuce bags did not have their origin printed on them.

Blockchain seems to indeed be the best solution for this particular problem, as a research process to track contaminated food takes 7 days through traditional methods. With blockchain, can be shortened to little more than 2.2 seconds.

“The food system is absolutely too large for any single entity to [track]. We’ve been working with IBM to digitize that, so the information is captured on the farm with a handheld system. It’s [also] captured at the packing house at the supplier,” said Frank Yiannas, the VP of Food Safety at Walmart.

Even the CDC supports Walmart’s move towards better tracking and supply chain transparency.

“Enhanced ability to trace a contaminated food back to its source will help government agencies and companies to identify the source of a foodborne disease outbreak, coordinate more effective recalls of foods thought to be contaminated, and learn where past problems began. We think these steps will strengthen future prevention efforts and better protect the public’s health from the threat of foodborne illness,” said Robert Tauxe, MD, director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases.

While we do know that most people only notice blockchain when it’s time to check the price of cryptocurrencies, it’s nice to see actual applicability for this revolutionary tech. After all, the last thing you want to fear is a Caesar salad.

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