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ASTRI Develops Next-gen Food Safety Management Platform

Image Credits: ASTRI, Press Release

The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) has adopted blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to create the “Next Generation Cold Food Import Safety Management Platform” to digitise and enhance the monitoring and control of the import of frozen or chilled meat from Mainland China.

The Next Generation Cold Food Import Safety Management Platform stores all import documents and container temperature data on the blockchain. Those who have been granted access rights, including farms, processing plants, importers and exporters, and approval units, will share the same documents and data to ensure consistency.

Trucks will use the Global Positioning System (GPS) to record their driving routes and use an advanced electronic lock and thermometer to monitor the status of the container door and the temperature inside, uploading it to the system platform and storing it on the blockchain in real-time.

ASTRI’s Acting Co-CEO cum Chief Technology Officer stated, “ASTRI has always been committed to using advanced scientific research to assist the government and the industrial and commercial sector in addressing problems and optimising operations, thereby improving the quality of life for our citizens. With the Next Generation Cold Food Import Safety Management Platform, we can assist importers and relevant government departments in more efficiently processing food import applications.”

The Senior Manager of cybersecurity, cryptography and trusted technologies at ASTRI, and the project coordinator, said, “Our goal is to deploy blockchain and IoT technologies to ensure that the entire process of transporting and storing chilled and frozen food is efficient and hygienic, and to facilitate food traceability. If a food safety incident occurs, we will be able to trace where the problem food comes from and where it goes.”

ASTRI, with the support from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and a meat importer, has conducted system trials on the routes between a meat processing plant on the Mainland and the Man Kam To Control Point.

Two phases of the trials were successfully completed in February and March 2021. ASTRI will optimise the platform, and share the trial results with the relevant departments on the Mainland and in Hong Kong, anticipating further discussions on the development of the platform.

According to recent research, the global Blockchain in Agriculture and Food Supply Chain Market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 48.1% to reach US$948 million by 2027. Amid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global food supply chains’ numerous inefficiencies were realised globally. This has led to the probable opening of opportunities in the mid and long-term technological markets. The blockchain platform offers a repeatable framework for end-to-end digital trade executions.

According to the World Economic Forum, blockchain technology is a highly effective solution to cope with the inefficiencies in supply chains surfaced by the pandemic.

Alliances were conducted between agriculture companies and other logistics and supplier organisations to pilot blockchain for faster cross-continental commodity trading. The imposition of lockdowns has made it further difficult to track many food products’ origin, resulting in more hazardous food.

According to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), food retailers across the world are also demanding certifications of suppliers to ensure food safety for every stakeholder in the value chain. Thus, the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the increasing use of blockchain in the food sector for traceability and transparency.

Consumers to the present markets are aware of and demand full transparency in terms of their food production processes. With a view of fighting this issue of food safety, many companies have come up with pilot studies to use blockchain technology to determine and control the food production conditions throughout the supply chain.

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