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FSA pilots Blockchain

FSA and blockchain

The Food Standards Agency has successfully completed a pilot using blockchain technology in a cattle slaughterhouse[2]. It is believed to be the first time blockchain has been used as a regulatory tool to ensure compliance in the food sector.

A block chain is a type of database that takes a number of records and puts them in a block (rather like collating them on to a single sheet of paper). Each block is then ‘chained’ to the next block, using an encrypted signature. This allows block chains to be used like a ledger, which can be shared and checked by anyone with the appropriate permission.

In this pilot both the FSA and the slaughterhouse had permission to access data, giving the benefit of improved transparency across the food supply chain. A further pilot took place in July that allowed farmers to access data about animals from their farm.

Further work is planned to replicate this in other plants and ensure that all those across the supply chain get the full benefit of the new way data is managed and accessed as ‘permissioned’ data to the FSA, slaughterhouse and farmer.

The approach has been to develop data standards with industry that will make theory reality. If the use of blockchain technology continues to show success in pilots, then the FSA believes that its permanent use would need to be industry-led because the current data model is limited to the collection and communication of inspection results.

Having established a Food and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) collaborative group last year, the FSA continues to work with DLT experts from government, food sector, technology industry and academia on the use of blockchain, including regulatory compliance of food.

References

2. https://www.food.gov.uk/news-alerts/news/fsa-trials-first-use-of-blockchain

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