The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) are a branch of the government that focus on ensuring and enforcing food standards regulations to vendors of food. Within this, they are responsible for ensuring the safety and quality of food served, but also the safety and hygiene of the conditions in which the food is made. As a result, the FSA employ a 5 point hygiene rating system which provides consumers with details about the food hygiene standards at various different establishments. According to the FSA website, they have very recently completed a trial in which blockchain technology is used as a tool for regulation within a cattle slaughterhouse. This is the first instance of its kind and is going a long way for exploring how blockchain technology can help to benefit this sector. According to Sian Thomas, the Head of Information Management as the FSA:
“This is a really exciting development. We thought that blockchain technology might add real value to a part of the food industry, such as a slaughterhouse, whose work requires a lot of inspection and collation of results.”Moreover:
“Our approach has been to develop data standards with industry that will make theory reality and I'm delighted that we've been able to show that blockchain does indeed work in this part of the food industry. I think there are great opportunities now for industry and government to work together to expand and develop this approach.”You can see the full report for yourself here- https://www.food.gov.uk/news-alerts/news/fsa-trials-first-use-of-blockchain Within this research, the FSA have used the blockchain to trace all aspects of meat production, including details of the movements of cattle from the second they are ready to move to the slaughterhouse, to the actual journey, their time at the slaughterhouse and of course, what happens after the cattle have been processed and the final product becomes available. Going forward, this in turn should (theoretically) allow customers to locate a full ‘transaction’ history of their meat, based on block details that would be printed on the meats packaging. In an ideal world, customers would be able to use this to see a real-time threat of the journey of their cattle, to ensure that the meat has been produced in the most ethical way possible. Basic implications of this include, a healthier diet for us all, and, most importantly, reassurance that the animals are being treated in the best way possible, improving the overall quality of the meat. We should also consider how the FSA investigating blockchain technology, may inspire other UK based government bodies to do the same. If this proves to be a success within the FSA, other companies will no doubt jump on board and want to do the same. When this happens, the blockchain revolution will truly be underway.