Food Standards Agency completes blockchain slaughterhouse trial

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

The trial marked the first time blockchain had been used as a regulatory tool to ensure food sector compliance
The trial marked the first time blockchain had been used as a regulatory tool to ensure food sector compliance
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has successfully completed a pilot using blockchain technology in a cattle slaughterhouse, claiming that the data tool offers ‘great opportunities’ for further development.

A block chain is a type of database that takes a number of records and collates them in a block. Each block is then ‘chained’ to the next block, using an encrypted signature. This allows block chains to be used like a ledger, which can be shared and checked only by those with appropriate permissions, leading to the tool being hailed as tamper-proof.

In the pilot both the FSA and the slaughterhouse had permission to access data, giving the benefit of improved transparency across the food supply chain. The FSA reported that a further pilot was planned for July, which would give permission to farmers to access data about animals from their farm.

The next action would be for further work to replicate this in other plants, the agency said. One of the priorities would be to ensure that everyone across the chain got the full benefit of the new way data was managed and accessed as ‘permissioned’ data to the FSA, slaughterhouse and farmer.

Industry-led

If use of blockchain technology continued to show success in pilot projects, its permanent use would need to be industry-led because data currently was limited to the collection and communication of inspection results, said the FSA. 

The initial trial project marked the first time blockchain had been used as a regulatory tool to ensure compliance in the food sector.

“This is a really exciting development,”​ said Sian Thomas, FSA head of information management. “We thought that blockchain technology might add real value to a part of the food industry, such as a slaughterhouse, whose work requires a lot of inspection and collation of results.

“Our approach has been to develop data standards with industry that will make theory reality and I'm delighted that we've been able to show that blockchain does indeed work in this part of the food industry. I think there are great opportunities now for industry and government to work together to expand and develop this approach.”

The FSA established a Food and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) collaborative group last year. It said it would continue to work with DLT experts from government, food sector, technology industry and academia on the use of blockchain, including regulatory compliance of food. 

Related topics: Supply Chain, Meat & poultry, IT

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