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Walmart deploying blockchain to track leafy greens

Suppliers will be required next year to be able to trace products all the way back to the farm.

   Walmart on Monday sent a letter to suppliers of fresh, leafy greens asking them to trace their products all the way back to the farm using blockchain technology.
   Suppliers are expected to have all these systems in place by this time next year, Walmart said.
   “This change means that the information gathered by these suppliers will be open and accessible through technology that offers real-time, end-to-end traceability from farm to table,” Walmart said.
   Earlier this year, an E. coli contamination in romaine lettuce was reported, and the Centers for Disease Control advised consumers to avoid eating lettuce grown in Yuma, Ariz.
   Frank Yiannas, vice president of food safety at Walmart, said, “It was difficult for consumers to know how to determine where their lettuce was grown. None of the bags of salad had ‘Yuma, Arizona’ on them. In the future, using the technology we’re requiring, a customer could potentially scan a bag of salad and know with certainty where it came from.”
  Yiannas said with paper-based ledgers, it may take his team seven days to track down where a product came from. Blockchain changes that.
   “We’ve been working with IBM to digitize that so the information is captured on the farm with a handheld system. It’s [also] captured at the packng house at the supplier,” Yiannas said.
   Walmart said it plans to use the power of blockchain to speed up identifying, researching and reacting to food safety situations. It said the new requirement really is about making food safer throughout the supply chain.
   Charles Redfield, executive vice president of food for Walmart U.S., said, “We have to go further than offering great food at an everyday low price. Our customers need to know they can trust us to help ensure that food is safe. These new requirements will help us do just that.”