Blockchain and artificial intelligence ensure the safety of food and goods in the supply chain.
- FDA New era of smarter food safety plan addresses new food delivery business models.
- The blockchain key to stricter record keeping requirements.
- Alitheon’s optical AI system can authenticate products simply by taking a photo.
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Welcome to Take Five. My name is Stephanie Neil and today we are looking at technologies that will help with product traceability and authenticity.
While the industry has been overwhelmed by supply chain issues and soaring prices, we tend to forget that there are still important regulatory mandates that many manufacturers in the food and beverage and pharmaceutical industries must comply with.
For example, last October, the Food and drug administration hosted a three-day summit to better understand how food is sold through business-to-consumer e-commerce models and the standards of care used by industry to control the safety risks of food sold online.
This followed the introduction of the FDA New era of smarter food safety plan, which was first introduced in 2020 and identifies future courses of action needed to address new food delivery business models.
The master plan is built around four main elements:
- Technology-based traceability
- Smarter tools and approaches for epidemic prevention and response
- New business models and retail modernization
- And the culture of food safety
Technology-enabled traceability is the first step in FDA’s work, which includes harmonizing key data elements and critical tracking events to provide end-to-end traceability.
And the technology to do that is blockchain.
A reminder of what blockchain is – it’s the technology that powers cryptocurrencies and other applications by providing a secure and decentralized approach to distributing digital information in a way that can be shared but not modified. The FDA is encouraging increased use of blockchain to help identify the exact sources of food implicated in an outbreak.
It sounds like a great plan, but it will be up to manufacturers to figure out how to implement a tracking system that includes last-mile delivery to the consumer, and those companies already have a lot on their plate right now.
Fortunately, there are other technologies that can help. I’ll tell you about one in particular that can even keep counterfeit products out of the supply chain.
In addition to food safety, the fight against counterfeiting is another area of concern for manufacturers. The traditional approach to this has been barcodes, labels and special labels. The problem is that these objects can be removed, damaged or counterfeited themselves.
But a start-up called Alitheon found a way to solve this problem using optical artificial intelligence. Much like a fingerprint, which is completely unique, optical AI identifies the inherent physical characteristics of goods. Because, even if they seem identical, they are not.
The Alitheon algorithm captures a one-of-a-kind”FeaturePrint” which can identify tiny differences in the surface of an item. This image is stored in a system to create a digital reference for future reference. Thus, the recipient’s end user can simply take a picture of the item using their mobile phone and the Alitheon app will immediately know if the product is genuine or has been tampered with during their trip.
There are many ways to use this technology. For example, it could fix callback issues. In the automotive industry, a recall requires that all cars in question be brought back to the shop to be checked. Instead, a simple picture of the part would tell the mechanic when it was made, saving a lot of time and money.
That’s all we have time for today, thanks for joining me on this edition of Take Five, I’ll see you next time.
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