According to the World Health Organization, about 600 million people worldwide suffer from food poisoning every year, and 420,000 people die from a result of food poisoning. When a food outbreak occurs, it’s difficult for food investigators to determine the source of where the outbreak is coming from since foods have a complicated distribution and delivery process. (1)
An innovative technology that is being developed to combat food poisoning is the application of blockchain technology. Blockchain is a secure system in which a record of sequenced entries is stored on multiple computers in multiple locations. This will allow encrypted data on foods to be monitored and verified by each farmer, packer, shipper, distributor, wholesaler, and retailer to ensure foods have been appropriately handled at any point of the distribution and delivery process. (1, 2)
Applying this technology to food poisoning, it would allow investigators to locate at what point the food was tampered within the food distribution process and allow them to notify restaurants and retailors much quicker in stopping the distribution of tampered foods to the public.
A positive impact of using blockchain technology on foods is that it has the capability of reducing food waste. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in medium- and high-income countries, foods are being wasted mainly at the later stages of the food distribution supply chain. With the use of blockchain technology, it would allow retailers and restaurants only to destroy the foods that came from the tampered source instead of wasting entire national and international stocks of that food. (1, 3)
For consumers, the impact of blockchain technology being used in the food industry will have a tremendous boost in the perception they have on the quality of foods that they eat. In a 2016 survey done by US National Institutes of Health with 79 participants from 29 countries across the world, the main issue they had was with the lack of food safety regulations. With proper countermeasures to food safety in place, consumers will have more faith in the quality of the foods that they eat. (4)
(1) Chandrawati, R. and Meyerson, Bernard S. Advanced Food Tracking and Packaging Will Save Lives and Cut Waste. Scientific American Public Health. Web. July 1, 2019.
(2) Mohan, Geoffrey. Could blockchain have solved the mystery of the romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak? Los Angeles Times Business. Web. May 27, 2018.
(3) SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Web.
(4) Uyttendaele, M., Franz, E. and Schluter, O. Food Safety, a Global Challenge. National Institutes of Health. NCBI. Web. Jan 13, 2016.