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Startup introduces blockchain traceability to the food we eat


By Emily McDaid

Inspired by the events of 2013, when UK foods were found to contain horse meat, a local entrepreneur named Kieran Kelly founded a new innovation in food security and product protection. Arc-net was born in Northern Ireland to ensure our food products are 100% authentic and traceable.

Food crime is a rising trend, and Arc-net points to national reports claiming 30 – 40% of the food we eat is either adulterated or mislabelled.

Arc-net uniquely applies blockchain technology to food accountability. It’s about making sure you’re eating what you think you’re eating. The blockchain provides openness, transparency, and an irrefutable data history from creation through to consumption.

Arc-net’s chief development officer, Brendan Smyth said: “We take a DNA sample from an animal to positively identify its breed, country of origin, exposure to toxins and unregulated medication, among other key markers. These samples can be cross-checked with the blockchain record to ensure the animal’s authenticity and lifecycle.”

A report released by PwC in 2016 sets the cost of food fraud and adulteration in excess of $40 billion per annum. Regular consumers are affected, but so are national retailers, who unwittingly sell or purchase effected products.

It’s not just meat. In this Guardian article, QUB Professor Chris Elliott flagged six items at risk of fraud: including guacamole (when avocado, an expensive fruit, is switched with inexpensive fruit), or baby formula (where brand names make a big difference to price). Prof Elliott warned that there’s “A huge incentive for the criminal to pursue food crime.”

Food is particularly at risk. A national retailer like Tesco might need to monitor 40,000 different products. Traceability is a huge task – requiring a strong data management engine. Arc-net is positioning itself to address this space. “It’s about delivering transparency, across complex supply chains and providing the ability to verify goods,” said Brendan.

The right people seem to be noticing. “In the next few weeks, Arc-net will make some significant announcements regarding funding and board appointments,” said Brendan.

We’ll watch this space with interest.

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