Solve food scandals faster: Walmart relies on blockchain

Products contaminated with pathogens are a nightmare for every food company. The US company Walmart is now using the blockchain to trace back staple foods such as salads. The aim is to identify the origins of pathogens more quickly and accurately without having to destroy masses of food on mere suspicion.

In 2011, almost 4,000 people in Germany fell ill with the dangerous intestinal infection EHEC within three months, 53 of whom died. The cause was unknown for a long time until it turned out that the bacteria had come to us via contaminated sprouted vegetables. After lengthy investigations, a horticultural company in Lower Saxony was found to have imported fenugreek seeds from Egypt. To this day, however, nobody has provided any evidence for this theory.

In 2013, the so-called horse meat scandal caused general discomfort. Millions of frozen dishes such as goulash and lasagna did not contain beef like excellent, but horse meat from Romania. The scandal was European-wide and when the media published the opaque and complicated supply chains, many were shocked.

Unclear supply chains to blame for Bitcoin loophole

Consumer protectors have long been calling on retailers to make their Bitcoin loophole more transparent so that they can be traced back at any time. The reconstruction of delivery routes and goods flows takes far too long in an emergency and makes cover-ups and irregularities possible. Especially for large Bitcoin loophole companies in the food sector, this has been a huge logistical challenge so far.

With the new technology, on the other hand, the workers mark the products on the farm with a code using a handheld device. This code can be viewed directly from all computers in the blockchain network. If someone detects a contaminated food now, everyone can scan the code and see exactly where it came from. A process that has lasted seven days so far is shortened to a few seconds. The information is tamper-proof, so it is not possible to simply specify a different place of origin.

Walmart launches the news spy

Blockchain technology solves these problems and makes it possible to make the news spy industry supply chains transparent and easily traceable. The US retail chain Walmart has now decided to make the blockchain part of its own logistics. The triggers are a recent E. coli infestation of salads and recurring salmonella contamination of eggs and breakfast products. Walmart has now instructed its suppliers of the news spy salad products to trace all products back to the field via blockchain. By next year, the respective suppliers should have updated their systems to the latest state of the art.

Week-long process shortened to a few seconds
According to Walmart, with the current written registers, it currently takes a full seven days to successfully trace a product back to its origin. The internal food safety team must contact the supplier, request the documents and then use them to identify the company that sent the product to the distribution centre.

Walmart is working with IBM to implement the blockchain. The company hopes that the conversion will provide greater security for consumers, cost savings in delivery processes and avoid unnecessary product disposal in the event of recalls.