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Blockchain Gains Traction in the Food Supply Chain

Blockchain Gains Traction in the Food Supply Chain

A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that "after initial tests, 12 of the world's biggest companies, including Walmart and Nestle, are building a blockchain to remake how the industry tracks food worldwide." I reached out to IBM to learn more. The traceability platform the article is referencing was based on technology provided by IBM. IBM has been one of the most active blockchain innovators. The group that is focused on solving the traceability problem is known as "IBM Food Trust." IBM Food Trust's main mission is to improve traceability.

There are safety implications. In early spring this year, romaine lettuce contaminated with E. coli bacteria got onto store shelves. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 210 people were infected with the outbreak strain across 36 states. 96 people were hospitalized, including 27 people who developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. Five deaths were reported. It was not until June 28th, over two months later, that the CDC reported that "this outbreak appears to be over." The CDC estimates that foodborne illnesses affect 47.8 million people in the U.S. every year, putting 127,000 into the hospital and killing more than 3,000.