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IBM blockchain targets worldwide food safety

IBM has launched a new enterprise-ready blockchain service looking to help some of the world's top food makers protect their food safety.

The IBM Blockchain Platform will allow businesses across the food supply chain to ensure their systems run smoothly and leave as little chance of contamination as possible.

So far, companies including Nestle, Unilver and Walmart have all teamed up to become part of the platform, which will target wide-ranging issues such as cross-contamination, the spread of food-borne illnesses, and unnecessary waste.

The consortium will now work together to identify which parts of the food supply chain would be able to utilise blockchain technology effectively, primarily in tracing the source of possible contamination. IBM and Walmart are currently undertaking trials in China and the USA to track the process, which has meant that data on food sourcing is now available in a matter of seconds, rather than days.

Blockchain could potentially allow all participants in the chain, from growers to the consumers themselves, the ability to access information on the origin and state of food involved in a particular transaction, and how it has moved through the process.

This in theory would allow providers to sue blockchain transaction to trace contaminated product to its source, meaning the problem can be removed and the product taken down from store shelves in a short amount of time.

“Unlike any technology before it, blockchain is transforming the way like-minded organisations come together and enabling a new level of trust based on a single view of the truth,” said Marie Wieck, general manager, IBM Blockchain. “Our work with organisations across the food ecosystem, as well as IBM’s new platform, will further unleash the vast potential of this exciting technology, making it faster for organisations of all sizes and in all industries to move from concept to production to improve the way business gets done.”

IBM is fully throwing its weight behind blockchain technology for the foreseeable future, with its new platform launch following trials conducted with more than 400 organisations in areas including financial services, supply chain and logistics, retail, government and health care.

The company has been a major backer of Hyperledger blockchain, and says its new launch is the first full-integrated, enterprise-ready blockchain system, helping to hopefully accelerate adoption among businesses of all sizes.

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro, and has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and ITProPortal.