After the deadly E. coli outbreak in 2018 and the romaine lettuce recall linked to it, Walmart and Sam’s Club laid down the rule to the fresh produce industry: They must implement a blockchain network by September 2019. They won’t be the only company requiring end-to-end traceability.
“Sanitary design can help prevent the needle from falling into the haystack,” said David McGiverin, president of Portland, Oregon-based Food Northwest, the food and beverage association representing Oregon, Washington and Idaho. “But when the needle does fall, blockchain technology can help locate it in the haystack, from farm to store.”
Frank M. Yiannas, former VP of food safety at Walmart, required the “end-to-end”—or “track and traceability”—of fruits and vegetables back to the field where they were grown. Blockchain helps processors, suppliers, grocery stores and restaurants immediately track affected items to their origins, enabling quick removal of contaminated products from menus, shelves and supply chains.
Drew Zabrocki, CEO of Centricity Global, will be speaking about blockchain and its impact on food processors at Northwest Food and Beverage World 2019, taking place Jan. 14-16 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Zabrocki works closely with Walmart and IBM in the development and execution of the blockchain program that Walmart sees as the future of food traceability and safety.
According to an article in Forbes, blockchain will not only create transparency and traceability, but it will allow for quick identification of contaminated products, ensure integrity of labeling claims, and give farmers and producers real time market data.
In addition to the blockchain presentation, the conference will also cover sanitary design issues, which go hand-in-hand with traceability and food recall prevention. Experts in sanitary design will present, including:
- Joe Stout, founder of Commercial Food Sanitation LLC and a 30-year veteran of Kraft Foods, including as director of Global Product Protection, Sanitation and Hygienic Design.
- Nate Wolf, a construction management leader with 20 years in commercial and industrial construction as well as equipment management.
- Ron Hall of EcoLab, who will review food processing equipment as “good or bad” for optimal sanitary design.
- Panel discussion with food processing professionals on their perspectives and processes for sanitary design.
- In addition, attendees may engage in a “speed dating” session, pairing short meetings between processors and suppliers on how to improve sanitation in food facilities.
Register for the conference at foodandbeverageworld.org.
Food Northwest, formerly the Northwest Food Processors Association (NWFPA), is a trade association organized to advance the ability of the food industry to produce and deliver wholesome, safe food from the Pacific Northwest to the world.