According to a breaking report by the Wall Street Journal, Walgreens has been testing the new blockchain system, which was originally developed by International Business Machines Corp (IBM), for the past 18 months.
The IBM Food Trust blockchain ultimately works to improve the tracking within the food system, which can work to help investigators better pinpoint sources of food contamination to improve public safety.
One such case occurred earlier this year when an outbreak of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce grown in the region of Yuma, Arizona caused 210 people in 36 states to fall ill, causing five people died, according to the CDC.
“Blockchain can and should be used to promote transparency around food safety. We didn’t have any growers that were part of that outbreak. But when one fails, we all fail because customers don’t look at a head of lettuce and say, ‘Dole didn’t have a problem.’ They just don’t buy lettuce,” said Natalie Dyenson, vice president of food safety and quality at Dole, one of Walmart’s major suppliers.
Dole has reportedly already uploaded shop-keeping units and other data about packages of lettuce and spinach to the Food Trust blockchain and is currently in the process of uploading more complex products like salad kits.
Walmart will also require farmers, logistics firms and business partners of these suppliers join the blockchain network by September 30, 2019, according to the report.
Walgreens has been active in acquiring patents related to blockchain technology, with recent patents related to robotic delivery, medical record systems and a registration-based user interface system that plans to leverage a blockchain ledger to maintain customer purchasing records.
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