According to the Food Allergy Research And Education (FARE) organization, there are 32 million Americans who are susceptible to food allergies, which is roughly 10% of the total population. If it is assumed that 10% of all the people in the world have food allergies, that would mean over 700 million people are at risk.
Food allergies are a widespread problem elsewhere in the world and are often triggered by milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy. Less frequently, corn, meat, gelatin, seeds, spices, fruits, and vegetables can trigger allergies. If someone who is allergic is exposed to any of these ingredients, they are at risk of the full range of reactions including rash, nausea, vomiting, fainting, hives, and possibly even death in cases of anaphylaxis shock if not treated in time.
Once a person discovers that they have a food allergy, there are several precautions they can take to help avoid the food that they are allergic to, or to treat the occurrences. Unfortunately, sometimes food can accidentally become contaminated with an allergen during farming, processing, shipping, or even in the grocery store where it is sold. This could have potentially lethal consequences.
A tracking solution for food allergies
Fortunately, blockchain technology provides a solution to this problem. As explained in a previous BitcoinNews.com article, blockchain can be utilized to track food all the way from the farm to the grocery store shelf. Since a blockchain is secure, immutable, and distributed, the various parties which use the ledger can be ensured that the food data is trustworthy and has not been maliciously altered. The data from a food-tracking blockchain can be used to identify inefficiencies and fraud in the food supply chain, which ultimately makes the supply chain shorter and stronger, providing higher-quality products to end-users at lower costs. This is why major corporations including Walmart, Nestle, Kroger, IBM, and Oracle are developing blockchain platforms to track the food supply chain.
In the same way that blockchain technology can be used to track food, the technology can be used to track allergens in food, and this data can be disseminated to end-users with food allergies who can then check if the food they are about to buy or eat is safe or contaminated.
Primority, a digital food safety and management company, has teamed up with the IOTA Foundation to make the dream of tracking allergens with blockchain technology a reality. These companies are developing the 3iVerify platform, which tracks which raw materials are used in a food product, in addition to the source of the raw materials, as well as data regarding the production process. Only manufacturers will be allowed to write data to the blockchain. This data will then be stored on the IOTA blockchain, which uses a unique type of blockchain called Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG), which is optimal for storing large amounts of data while simultaneously keeping transaction fees low. IOTA’s DAG blockchain is commonly known as the Tangle.
3iVerify will send food data to the IOTA Tangle via a Masked Authenticated Message (MAM), which is an easy and secure way to write data to the Tangle. For each specific food, a dedicated MAM channel is created, and the list of allergens in the food and the expiration date is written to the Tangle.
End users can then download the AllergyCheck App, and scan the barcode of a food product, at which point they will be able to see a list of all the allergens identified in this food product, including data from previous batches of the product. Users can be assured that the data they are basing their decisions on is accurate since the data is only from official food manufacturers and cryptographically secured on the IOTA Tangle.
Aside from being a great way to avoid eating foods which contain dangerous allergens, users of the AllergyCheck App will also be rewarded with the IOTA (MIOTA) cryptocurrency just for participating. IOTA (MIOTA) is one of the top cryptocurrencies in the world with a market cap near USD 1 billion.
The Head of Supply Chain and Global Trade at the IOTA Foundation remarks:
“The solution is a non-competitive setup whereby the entire food industry can open up their databases on allergens directly to consumers — without sharing any sensitive information to competitors. It shows the power of a permissionless ledger and how it can drive an infrastructure serving the public good. We are very excited that Primority is driving this grand vision and are looking forward to engage the industry at large.”
Thus, it is clear that blockchain technology’s capabilities to immutably store data on a distributed ledger is exactly what is needed to tackle the global food allergy problem. Primority and the IOTA Foundation’s AllergyCheck app enables a user to simply scan a food’s barcode and receive all of the relevant allergy information, potentially adverting life-threatening allergic reactions.
Perhaps in the future, blockchain-based platforms for tracking food allergens will become the standard in reducing allergen-related health and safety concerns.
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