For the first time in the UK’s food industry, blockchain is being used as a platform for monitoring regulatory compliance in a cattle slaughterhouse. The pioneer of this concept is the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA); a government body charged with the protection of public health with regards to food safety. The FSA hopes that this promising technology will be able to provide a secure means of keeping track of beef supplies and enforcing compliance in the local food sector.
In a recent announcement, the FSA confirmed that it has successfully completed a pilot test for a blockchain initiative for the cattle’s abattoir. The pilot phase involved a beef slaughterhouse sharing data on the food supply chain with the FSA. Adopting this approach will ensure that all data on processed foods in the facility will be easily accessible by concerned parties via the blockchain.
With the success of the pilot test, the Food Standards Agency blockchain initiative will move forward with the next stage of development which will involve farmers uploading data on individual animals. This stage is scheduled to begin some time next month. More facilities are expected to adopt this system if it proves to be successful. The FSA head of innovation, Sian Thomas has called the project an “exciting development,” he is hoping that their accomplishments here will lead to the creation of better food tracking systems in the future.
Commenting on the success of the project, Sian Thomas had this to say:
“We thought that blockchain technology might add real value to a part of the food industry, such as a slaughterhouse, whose work requires a lot of inspection and collation of results. Our approach has been to develop data standards with industry that will make theory reality and I’m delighted that we’ve been able to show that blockchain does indeed work in this part of the food industry.”
Compared to conventional methods of verifying compliance, the FSA’s blockchain initiative promotes data visibility for both the FSA and the participating slaughterhouse by utilizing a permissioned blockchain. Although the exact blockchain platform employed was kept under wraps, the food safety agency sees its pilot success as a yardstick for the development of a future blockchain network which will provide tremendous merits for the food supply chain as a whole.
When it comes to spearheading blockchain based initiatives, the FSA is no greenhorn. Last year, the food agency founded a Food and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) group whose primary purpose was to liaise with professionals in the area of DLT, stretching across diverse industries and sectors including academia, tech, food industry and the public sector. The food consortium was charged with studying the viability of blockchain based solutions for the food industry with respect to regulatory compliance.
Blockchain solutions for the food supply chain do not revolve around regulatory compliance alone. Tech companies around the world have been exploring blockchain solutions that are streamlined to solve other food supply chain problems including traceability and transparency. One of these companies is FoodLogiQ that provides food traceability, food safety compliance, and supply chain transparency solutions to companies in the food value chain. The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Sawtooth initiative is another project that has shown great potential in the area of tracking seafood products, while IBM and Walmart partnership proved successful in tracing the origin of samples of Chinese pork.
By improving data visibility, creating better methods for demand management, and optimizing processes, these companies are hoping to develop blockchain systems that will help bring efficiency, authenticity, and trustworthiness to the global food supply chain.