Aug. 22 (UPI) -- IBM on Tuesday announced a collaboration with Walmart, Kroger and a group of other food businesses to use blockchain technology to trace the origin of foodstuffs amid potential food-borne illness outbreaks.
The technology, which IBM describes as a distributed ledger, tracks where food products were grown, when they were picked, where they were transported to and how they were used. The data management has multiple applications, but IBM highlighted its ability to increase food safety.
IBM said it can take weeks or months for health officials to track down the source of illnesses caused by contaminated foods -- like salmonella and E. coli. The company says blockchain-based systems can cut that time down.
"In the case of the global food supply chain, all participants -- growers, suppliers, processors, distributors, retailers, regulators and consumers - can gain permissioned access to known and trusted information regarding the origin and state of food for their transactions," IBM said in a news release. "This can enable food providers and other members of the ecosystem to use a blockchain network to trace contaminated product to its source in a short amount of time to ensure safe removal from store shelves and stem the spread of illnesses."
Also joining the collaboration are Dole, Driscoll's, Golden State Foods, McCormick and Company, McLane Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods and Unilever. The group so far has tested the blockchain technology and plans to collaborate on other ways to make use of it.