Blockchain: Cryptocurrency’s tech could optimize food safety in a globalized food chain

December 19, 2017

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that has seen an exponential soar in price over the last 30 days, pushing its underlying technology further into the mainstream. The technology, which supports Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies like it, is called blockchain, and it could revolutionize food chain traceability in the coming years.

According to The Economist, “(Blockchain) in essence is a shared, trusted, public ledger that everyone can view, but which no single user controls.” It can be used to monitor a continuously growing list of records, which are tied together in a digital, encrypted format. This works for online currencies like Bitcoin, and other records as well.

Blockchain technology in the future may provide an instant and easily accessible record of all kinds of data — like the country of origin for a food product, for example. Blockchain technology may allow a food processor to automatically build a digital food label using preexisting blockchain information related to the consumer’s food chain.

This technology has great potential to allow food retailers, processors, and importers an instant view of food products or raw ingredients on the move. So far, testing has shown that the increased transparency in the globalized food chain provided by blockchain technology has “reduced the time it took to trace a package of mangoes from the farm to the store from days or weeks to two seconds.”

Securely tracing the country of origin of food ingredients and products could become a lot easier, and this, according to Food Quality News, is one of the things being testing in the recently-created Blockchain Food Safety Alliance. The organization is backed by a consortium of companies, including Walmart,, IBM (International Business Machines) and Tsinghua University’s National Engineering Laboratory for E-Commerce Technologies. “(The) initiative is designed to bring the requisite efficiency, transparency and authenticity to food supply chains around the world,” said Forbes contributor Rodger Aitken.

Bitcoin, and therefore blockchain, is taking the world by storm, and this could also revolutionize the globalized food chain at an incredible pace. Coinbase — a mobile app for managing the exchange of bitcoin — has become one of the most downloaded apps in the major app marketplaces.

It’s not so hard to imagine in the near future that you’ll unlock your device by simply looking at it, then hold it up to the grocery store shelf and get a detailed augmented reality view of all pertinent information about the products on the shelf — such as the country of origin for all of its ingredients. This could fundamentally change the way we label food, and make the globalized food chain much more robust with regards to food safety.

Category: Food Safety