In a letter issued to suppliers on September 24, Walmart will require its direct suppliers of spinach, lettuce and other greens to join its food tracking blockchain by January 31, 2019. The retailer will also instruct that farmers, business partners and logistics firms of these suppliers join the blockchain by September 30, 2019.
Walmart Has Already Tested Its Blockchain
Walmart’s supplier push comes after 18 months of testing the distributed ledger system that was developed by IBM.
According to Dole Food Co., Nestle SA and other participants, tests to trace mangoes, chicken, berries, baby food, and other foods on the IBM Food Trust blockchain have produced a clear view of the food system when compared to the current federal regulations.
One thing the food tracking blockchain will help with is pinpointing the source of food contamination. It can help improve public safety by cutting the amount of time an illness goes unchecked. According to Frank Yiannas, the head of food safety at Walmart, this will help save money for retailers and farmers who can be overwhelmed by large product recalls.
At the beginning of the year, millions of bags and heads of romaine lettuce were thrown out after an eruption of E.coli linked to romaine spread through 36 states. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as investigators worked, 210 people got sick, and five died.
Mr. Yiannas believes that the directive for suppliers to use the Food Trust blockchain will help the food industry create a complete picture of the food system than it’s currently possible under federal regulations.
He adds that the goal is to speed up and improve the accuracy of recalls whenever food-borne illness or any other problems emerge.
“Today, the requirement for traceability by law is one step up and one step back. That doesn’t work anymore.”
The vice president of food safety and quality at Dole, Natalie Dyenson, said: “Blockchain can and should be used to promote transparency around food safety.”
“We didn’t have any growers that were part of that outbreak. However, when one fails, we all fail because customers don’t look at a head of lettuce and say, ‘Dole didn’t have a problem.’ They just don’t buy lettuce. Every single lettuce processor in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico took a financial hit.”
Basil has three years of freelance experience writing on disruptive technologies. He focuses on breaking news and education pieces; helping to spread the gospel of Blockchain. He hopes to have his own blockchain company one day; helping the world through its innovative ledger technology