Walmart Tracks Veggies With Blockchain to Control Outbreaks

An official recall of Romaine lettuce within the United States was issued this year due to a serious outbreak of illnesses caused by those who ingested the contaminated produce. Major food restaurants and retailers such as Walmart took part in the recall, stating that the incident could have been controlled sooner had there been a speedier and more secure system for tracing food supply.


Blockchain for Public Health Safety

Walmart, a multinational retailer, and crypto aficionado claims that blockchain may play a major role in offering such a solution. Partnering with IBM and eleven other food companies, Walmart worked towards developing a network that could easily trace food products using blockchain tech. As of today’s announcement, the retail giant and subsidiary known as Sam’s Club will utilize this blockchain method for the supply of all leafy produce in order to establish precise traceability from the farm to their shelves.  

Walmart also claimed that their new blockchain system has significantly improved the efficiency of their supply chain as seen during an initial trial that originally took one week to trace a product that now takes as little as 2.2 seconds. The company spokesperson reported to Buzzfeed, stating that in order to comply with food safety regulations, Walmart discarded all romaine lettuce believed to originate from the Yuma region, as there was no real method to safely differentiate what products were in fact contaminated. This issue was faced by all companies within the US food industry.

Why Today’s System Isn’t Fool Proof

The company spokesperson explained in a recent email that the current system utilizing barcodes does not offer a continuous link from farmer to distributor to Walmart shelves. In order to standardize databases between retailers and implement this continuous chain, Walmart aims to create a blockchain based system shared by all participants. The CDC has been working alongside IBM regarding blockchain use cases for solving major health issues and have discussed the implications of improving product traceability for companies such as Walmart.  

A recent article issued by the MIT Tech Review discussed the CDC and its efforts to better public health care issues. The article explained that blockchain technology could offer an automated solution to the otherwise complex and easily meshed steps involved in today’s manual and less secure process.

Walmart claims their focus regarding the newly established blockchain project involves helping minimize the number of individuals at risk of foodborne disease whilst simultaneously cutting retail and supplier losses in the event of a recall. The company spokesperson also claimed that although currently, no information regarding Walmart’s leafy produce is accessible to consumers, the company plans to tackle that issue in the near future.

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