Blockchain software gives shoppers the life story of their chicken!
The poultry industry has been the subject of ever increasing regulation and yet concerns persist over the welfare of many birds which are reared for their meat. Shoppers purchasing their meat can’t tell by looking at it whether the bird had a good life and up until now, it would have been impossible to find out. But Blockchain software is changing all that.
Carrefour Chickens have special labels
Shoppers at Carrefour, the French supermarket, can discover whether the bird they are about to eat roamed free and had a good life. Every chicken that the supermarket sells under its own brand now comes with its own life story! All shoppers have to do is scan the label with their smartphones and they can read all about that particular bird!
The technology used is the same as that which makes Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies possible. Carrefour has been looking to ensure that the products it sells are not tainted and believe that Blockchain will improve food safety worldwide.
Early Adopters of Blockchain
The likes of Nestlé, Dole Food, Unilever, and Tyson Foods are working with their biggest customer, Walmart, to explore the possibilities of Blockchain. Walmart own ASDA, the UK Supermarket. The traceability of food could be about to improve dramatically. Such improvements are not merely sought to enhance animal welfare. A reduction in food-borne diseases would have a positive impact on a country’s economy as people would have less time off work.
Blockchain offers interesting possibilities but has its critics with regard to its use in the food industry. The online ledger requires manual entries, leaving it prone to human errors or intentional manipulation that could compromise the data chain. It wouldn’t take a genius to tamper with the data and it wouldn’t take Einstein to work out that someone will try to do that if it is in their financial interest to do that.
The End of Food Tampering?
Proponents of the technology feel that it could reduce the incidence of food tampering and there have been plenty of those in recent years. Wood pulp has been found in cheese, plastic in chicken nuggets and famously, horse meet in minced beef. These episodes have cost the food industry billions of pounds and have resulted in serious dangers to human health.
Waste could also be reduced by the technology. For example, if a vegetable was found to be contaminated, blockchain would enable a grocer to pinpoint its source, preventing the unecessary recall of huge volumes of food.
Blockchain data would also enable retailers to gauge the shelf-life of produce, further reducing wastage. There is potential here for huge improvements but only if the data can be properly protected.
Chickens are paving the way for a whole new world which could have big benefits for people and animals. It remains to be seen whether the technology makes a real difference or if it is too vulnerable to manipulation.