Blockchain is preventing foodborne illness
Illustration: Chris Gash
Food distributers unknowingly deliver contaminated food across the world, hospitalizing thousands each year.
U.S. public health officials are using blockchain and other new technology to track compromised foods to prevent future outbreaks.
Why you should know: Nearly 3,000 people die annually in the U.S. from eating food contaminated with bacteria like E. coli and listeria. A secure digital, end-to-end tracking system using blockchain and other cutting-edge technology would help identify contaminated products faster and reduce exposure.
The challenge: Not that long ago, health experts relied on inspections, patient interviews and paper logs to identify the source of an outbreak. In some cases, like the Salmonella Poona Outbreak in 2015, it took approximately 3 weeks to identify its origin.
While some large distributors have embraced new technology to pinpoint contamination, many smaller farms and restaurants have not, weakening the industry’s ability to trace quickly.
From the source: “Larger retailers have the resources to activate this technology,” said Chetan Paul, a Leidos systems engineer. “Local grocery stores need financial and technical support to onboard this technology and create a more impactful tracing system.”
One solution: In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) challenged technology providers and entrepreneurs to create scalable, low-cost tracing tools that are flexible enough for all levels of the food industry.
Leidos submitted the Trusted Track and Trace (TTT) application and was recognized by the FDA. TTT is an end-to-end traceability system that uses blockchain technology to quickly track food products from their source to your table.
How it works:
- Sensors collect real-time data throughout each step of the supply chain—information like which farm produced the product, which chemicals were used, shipping temperatures and delivery times.
- Data is continuously and securely sent to a decentralized TTT blockchain network. Relevant stakeholders can see relevant data. Should the data be altered, they will know.
- The data is reformatted to easily show each step of the product’s journey through the supply chain.
What’s next: The FDA is developing a digital traceability system prototype. The data captured will be used to make investigation diagrams and improve outbreak response.
Please contact the Leidos media relations team for more information.