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Following the E. coli outbreak on romaine lettuce, earlier in the year, which originated from Arizona, the multi-million retail company, Walmart, has mandated all its suppliers of green leaf and fresh fruits to adopt the use of a blockchain-based tracking system that would help the company trace each product back to the farm where it was produced.
During the Romaine E. coli scare, health officials from the CDC advised against consuming lettuce grown in Arizona but most people were forced to throw away large amounts of romaine lettuce, whether it was from Arizona or not because they were unsure of the exact place it was produced.
With the new blockchain-based Walmart Food Traceability Initiative, it would be easy to scan a bag of fruit to determine the exact farm it was produced.
In a letter, Walmart stated that the company is focused on providing customers with not just affordable foods but safe foods too as such they have awakened to their responsibility and are prepared to work together with producers to ensure the safety of the products made available for sale.
This system will go a long way to help combat disease spread as a disease associated with a product can easily be traced back to the farm where it was produced. So that people in such area and beyond will know the exact product to stay away from.
Also in the letter, Walmart added that the new traceability initiative will be accessed through the IBM Food Trust network. To help suppliers meet this new requirement, which is slated to come into effect a year from now, the retail company has worked with IBM and other companies to ensure the new blockchain-based traceability initiative is a user-friendly, low-cost program that their suppliers can afford and employ in their product.
The company acknowledged the fact that the news came to the suppliers as a surprise as such they have divided the requirement into two phases. The first phase, which has been proposed to take effect as early as January 31, 2019, will see that suppliers conform to one-step traceability on the IBM Food Trust network. While the second phase, which will take full effect on September 30, 2019, requires all suppliers to work within their vertical systems to ensure a end-to-end traceability of product back to the farm where it was produced.