Opinion

How blockchain can build trust in food

By Sterling Crew

- Last updated on GMT

Sterling Crew: ‘Blockchain has the potential to revolutionise food traceability and transparency’
Sterling Crew: ‘Blockchain has the potential to revolutionise food traceability and transparency’
Sterling Crew, strategic adviser at Shield Safety Group, explains how the use of blockchain can build trust in the food and drink industry.

Trust in the food supply chain is critical. Consumers and watchdogs want to know where their food comes from and have confidence in its provenance, integrity and safety. As food supply networks become more complex, fragmented and globalised, managing them is increasingly challenging.

The network is so convoluted that it has become almost impossible for food producers and retailers to unconditionally guarantee the provenance of their products – as demonstrated by the horsemeat scandal.

Part of the solution

Blockchain could be part of the solution. While traditional systems, which are often paper-based or use basic tools and have to be reconciled by various businesses at different times, make it difficult to manage safety issues and pinpoint exactly where things went wrong, blockchain has the potential to revolutionise food traceability and transparency.

A secure, shared, decentralised, immutable ledger, it is called blockchain because all the transactions are sorted into continuously growing lists of records, called blocks, with each one chained to those before it, all the way back to the first transaction.

This makes it tough for anyone to change the records and provides a quick mechanism for various parties to check and agree on a set of recorded facts, providing greater trust in transactions. Any intellectual property concerns can be overcome by controlling what users can see.

Prevent food fraud

Blockchain can also help prevent food fraud and counterfeiting, as each link would be documented in a permanent record that cannot be altered, with end-to-end visibility.

Furthermore, it will track the content and origins of foods. Integrated with other technologies, such as smartphones, Quick Response codes and the ‘Internet of Things’, customers can scan their food and see a complete history of its journey from farm to fork, allowing them to validate provenance.

Related topics: Food Safety, IT

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