On Monday, the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced a successful trial using blockchain technology to monitor regulatory compliance in a cattle slaughterhouse. The FSA claims its pilot is the first use of blockchain technology to verify regulatory compliance in the food sector.
Sian Thomas, head of information management at the FSA, commented on the success of the project:
"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. I think there are great opportunities now for industry and government to work together to expand and develop this approach."
The pilot featured a permissioned blockchain (though it remains unclear which platform the agency employed) that made data accessible to both the FSA and the participating slaughterhouse. This approach allowed for increased transparency along the food supply chain.
The FSA intends to beef up the project so that it can replicate the trial across other packinghouses. The food safety watchdog hopes that all parties along the food supply chain – including the FSA, slaughterhouses, and farmers – will eventually benefit from the permissioned data available via blockchain technology.
Moreover, the FSA started a Food and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) group last year to collaborate with DLT experts across a range of industries, such as the government, food sector, tech, and academia. The consortium studies the use of blockchain technology in the food industry, including matters relating to regulatory compliance.
Although the FSA's pilot may be the first in which the food sector has used blockchain technology to track regulatory compliance, the application of this tech to food supply chains in general has been explored before. In May 2017, Walmart and IBM used blockchain technology to trace the origins of a sample of Chinese pork. In August 2017, blockchain company Provenance teamed up with Heifer USA and the Grass Roots Farmer's Cooperative to track chicken products sold by the Golden Gate Meat Company in San Francisco. And in March this year, Carrefour, one of Europe's largest public grocers, announced a blockchain-based system to trace food from farm to table.
As far as supply chain innovations are concerned, blockchain is bringing home the bacon.