Two food testing labs from Vietnam and Australia are joining forces with a blockchain provider to extend globally-recognised GS1 industry standards into labs, in a bid to boost supply chain transparency and trust.
Source Certain International from Australia and Hoan Vu from Vietnam — which both focus on verifying the integrity of food supply chains — will use blockchain infrastructure provided by OriginTrail using GS1 standards.
According to John G Keogh, president of Shantalla Inc. and advisor to the initiative, GS1 supply chain data standards are the ‘language of business’.
The GS1 management board comprises global industry giants such as Nestle, Mondelez, Target, Carrefour, Walmart, Metro AG, AEON, eBay, Alibaba, Amazon and others.
The pilot project will assign various GS1 serialised identifiers to food samples and assign a global document type identifier (GDTI) to test results. This will make it extremely valuable in a food safety or food fraud crisis, by providing rapid traceability back to the scientific lab where the tests were done.
Keogh said this would also enable a GS1 global location number (GLN) to be assigned to the farm or factory where the sample was extracted from a batch, and then linking and integrating the scientific information.
How it works
Keogh explained, from the moment a sample is taken from a batch of goods at a farm or factory, GS1 standards are used to apply a serialised identifier to the sample and to map out processes within the lab.
GS1 identifiers are also assigned to the assets within the lab such as mass spectrometry equipment, as well as to the work order, the scientists, and the output report on the forensic testing.
For example, the report could state whether the product was organic or grain-fed or pesticide-free and would be tabulated and printed out using GS1 GDTI with a barcode on it.
This data would be added to the blockchain structure of both labs that are connected, allowing the data to be shared confidentially with their clients — such as Unilever and Vietnam’s largest retailer CoOp — regardless of which blockchain they use or which legacy app.
“This is an exciting initiative which sets out to close a gap by extending industry standards into scientific laboratories,” he said.
“The pilot will map the processes from sample extraction at the farm or factory to the laboratory and apply GS1 standards to uniquely identify the samples, lab equipment, documentation and final test results. This enhances transparency to the party who is scientifically verifying the product origin, authenticity or organic claim, for example. When this data is added to a product record on a blockchain, it will help to enhance trust in the food system.”
“We want to identify not only where the physical product came from, and through to market, but where was it tested, who tested it, what tests were actually carried out, and so on. We believe that this is a first,” said Keogh.
Henry Bui, CEO of Hoan Vu, said food companies were increasingly turning to independent third-party scientific laboratories to validate product authenticity, origin and claims.
“This initiative with Source Certain International and OriginTrail will enhance traceability and transparency of the scientific data while maintaining confidentiality. We are confident this initiative will improve overall food chain integrity.”
This pilot project is also the first time OriginTrail’s decentralised protocol will be used for food certification and validation. According to the company, it is also the world’s first case of connecting and integrating key scientific information and laboratory information management systems (LIMS) with blockchain.
“There is no doubt that to make real progress in building consumer trust, transparency inside our food chain is critical. The blockchain ecosystem is thriving, and its applicability to agri-food is becoming evident,” said Cameron Scadding, executive chairman of Source Certain International.
“OriginTrail is leading this area with demonstrated use case examples, sound technical leadership and deep subject matter expertise. Data-based transparency is essential but the ability to verify the data and reconnect it with the actual consumer product is very important.
“Provenance is key and consumers also want to know that they can trust the information being presented to them — this where Source Certain can help and, in collaboration with Hoan Vu, we are looking forward to working with OriginTrail to deliver real, verified supply chain integrity.”