Walmart Turns to Blockchain to Circumvent the E.Coli Outbreak in Food Products
Retail giants Walmart and Sam’s Club are primed to enter the waters of the distributed ledger technology (DLT), as they will now require their green vegetable suppliers to track the farm produce, all the way from the point of origin. According to a report published by Walmart, on September 25, 2018, blockchain technology will be used as a means to circumvent the current outbreak of E. Coli and Salmonella in romaine lettuce. The suppliers are required to upload data about their farm produce on the blockchain within a year.
The Outbreak of E. Coli Poses Serious Threats
While unintentional, the outbreak of E. Coli and Salmonella brings forth an excellent use case for the revolutionizing 21st-century technology.
Feeding the data on to the blockchain will enable suppliers to identify which produce and farms are infected by the viruses. Once the point of origin is determined, the supplier could immediately stop placing orders with the infected farms, subsequently halting the supply to restaurants and consumers.
“Walmart believes the current one-step up and one-step back model of food traceability is outdated for the 21st Century and that by, working together, we can do better,” Walmart said in its letter.
“There is no question that there is a strong public-health and business-case for enhanced food traceability.”
In the report, the American retail giant highlights the challenges that accompany the traditional method of verification of products – stating that the process is “extremely time-consuming.” In some cases, the entire process of tracking down items takes as long as seven days.
However, with the help of blockchain technology, the process becomes much more simplified. Making use of IBM’s blockchain solutions, Walmart aims to digitize the supply chain information to ensure better traceability and transparency in the food industry.
Direct suppliers of food products are required to conform to Walmart’s standards and ensure “end-to-end traceability” back to the point of origin by September 30, 2019.
A Real and More Tangible Use Case
Although the world of the DLT is moving at a rapid pace with new developments coming into the fray almost every day, a tangible use case extending far beyond the research labs of the IBM and Microsoft is a rare occurrence.
This development is not the first stint for Walmart either. BTCManager reported on September 3, 2018, about Walmart’s patent for a blockchain-based robot delivery system.