Blockchain in the food industry
As with all good inventions, the spin-offs and additions to blockchain will continue – the possibilities seem endless. Food Safety Tech has run an excellent series of articles on this concept. These articles cite potential impacts that could be felt by anyone dependent upon access to safe, clean, and healthy food. The impacts and benefits are far-reaching and will have significant positive impacts.
A number of leading technology and innovation providers are working with some of the world’s largest organizations that produce, procure, manufacture, and distribute food around the world to explore how blockchain can be leveraged. Even food retailers like Walmart are investing heavily in partnerships and technology.
As we continue to move into a truly global economy, where foods cross country borders freely, being able to track where a food product came from and the potential risks it encountered along its journey becomes increasingly important for protecting the health and safety of consumers.
Blockchain could potentially be the tool that helps us do this. Blockchain offers us the opportunity to access detailed information about food or even food components: who touched, impacted, or influenced the food from the farm to it being on your fork.
To be truly transparent, blockchain technology must be expanded so that there is a publicly viewable aspect of it. As it exists today, blockchain technology is confined within more private networks. Jon Labrie at Greenfence does an excellent job of explaining the limited nature of blockchain technology as it exists now in his recent post on the GFSI Consumer Goods Forum.
Real-world applications of blockchain
The average person, no matter where you are in the food supply chain, might wonder is this truly possible, why is it important, and how does it impact what I do, be it grower, producer, service provider or consumer.
A recent Business Insider article shows how IBM’s Blockchain™ tracks food products digitally from farm to store shelves and ultimately to consumers. This technology enables the monitoring of information such as farm origination details, batch numbers, factory and processing data, the intermediary details, expiration dates, storage temperatures and shipping details, along the entire food supply chain.
Utilizing IBM’s Watson technology, supply chain managers can use predictive information to better manage the food supply chain. With the level and intensity of the information, anything pertaining to the food consumed can be shared on the ledger of information that gets passed from partner to partner. With the advent of open source networks, this rich information will be more readily available to be shared between anyone touching the shipment.
Blockchain and how it connects with pest control
As a service provider, Rentokil Steritech’s goal is to understand how this technology impacts the service we provide to our customers and what changes need to be made so that we can leverage it to help our customers. As blockchain begins infiltrating our customers’ environments, it becomes more important that they have information about pest control that can impact product quality: who is in your facility, what materials are they using, what frequency are they visiting, and what are the issues being encountered in terms of pest control treatments and inspections.
We’re already providing much of this critical information digitally to our customers. From the time a Rentokil Steritech Specialist walks into a facility, information about that person is available and readily transferable via electronic logbook information, technically before the service even begins.
With technology forward tools such as Rentokil Steritech’s PestNetOnline and PestConnect, this information can be provided to food manufacturers or suppliers to help support the need for better, more accurate information.
These types of information are important in third-party audits required by many companies to do business. Details on inspections and recommendations are the things that interest auditors most. This information and critical details can be easily uploaded or transferred electronically. As a food producer or distributor, you can add confidence to your products as they move from the warehouse to grocery shelf or restaurant floor.
Service providers like Rentokil Steritech that are able to provide this level of detail, combined with cutting-edge technology, can help provide the framework for what’s possible with blockchain in terms of how a product is stored and protected from pests. In the world of blockchain, pest control information has the potential to be a part of the permanent ledger, helping to further reinforce the safety of foods at any point along the supply chain.