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Companies Deploy Blockchain for Food Safety, Tracking

Cattle

(Stefanie Drenkow-Lolies, Pixabay)

5 Feb. 2020. A company offering food and animal safety services is applying blockchain technologies to boost its livestock and food tracking capabilities. Neogen Corporation in Lansing, Michigan is collaborating with Ripe Technology Inc. in San Francisco to add blockchain to Neogen’s food safety diagnostics and animal genomics services.

Neogen produces dehydrated culture media and diagnostic test kits to reveal pathogens and toxins in plants and animals, as well as allergens, foodborne bacteria, pests, and sanitation issues. The company also offers genomic services for animal diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, and veterinary medicine.

Ripe Technology, known by its web address ripe.io, applies blockchain technology to build trust in the food supply chain. Blockchain is a system for capturing data about transactions in a network, but with the data distributed among the various parties to the transactions. Data about a transaction are broken up into blocks, with each block connected in a chain.

Each block is also time-stamped and encrypted with an algorithm giving it a unique identifier or fingerprint, also linked mathematically to the previous block in the chain. This linking of uniquely identified and encrypted blocks in the chain ensures the integrity of the data, as well as protects the data from hacking.

Ripe.io, a three year-old enterprise, says it combines blockchain technology with machine learning and Internet of Things to offer more transparency, integrity, and security in the food supply chain. The company says its technology can track food at each stage of production from seeds to final sales, with a cloud-based blockchain ledger. Data generated through its network are arrayed in a custom-designed dashboard for clients, which include food producers, distributors, restaurants, and retailers.

Neogen and ripe.io expect to create a system that provides a history of Neogen products and animals as they go through their production cycles. “Blockchain has tremendous potential throughout the food and livestock industries,” says Neogen CEO John Adent in a company statement, “both to verify the authenticity of premium products, such as cage-free eggs, and enhance the traceability of issues that require correction, such as those that lead to product recalls.”

Adent adds, “There are countless potential benefits to adopting the technology. For example, the genomic profile of a dairy cow could be connected with the feed the animal eats, its medical history, barn environment, quantity and quality of the milk it produces.”

The company plans to eventually integrate ripe.io’s technology into its Neogen Analytics service. That platform, says Neogen, will automate food safety workflows, and continuously monitor and analyze food risk data. The company recently announced the service as part of its environmental monitoring program to ease audits and reporting requirements.

Raja Ramachandran, ripe.io’s CEO notes, “Neogen’s diagnostics and DNA expertise can add the highest degree of transparency and factual correctness for critical issues around authenticity and accuracy on food recalls. We believe this will change the game in food transparency for improved quality assessment from the beginning of the supply chain all the way to consumers.”

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