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October 21, 2019

Congressional Blockchain Caucus Backs Feds’ Use of Technology for Food Safety

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., one of the chairman of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus wrote the U.S. Food and Drug Administration supporting the agency’s upcoming session on a blueprint for “A New Era of Smarter Food Safety” which will focus on maintaining food safety through technologies including blockchain.

Soto and U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., who also leads the caucus, wrote Norman Sharpless, the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, on the matter on Thursday.

The caucus defines itself as a “bipartisan group of members of Congress who focus on the future of blockchain technology and Congress’s role in the technology’s development.” The letter to Sharpless is below:

As members of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, we write in support of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s focus on maintaining food safety through technologies such as blockchain and the agency’s upcoming session on a blueprint for “A New Era of Smarter Food Safety”.

Blockchain technology applications offer promising solutions to reduce food safety risks in our nation’s food supply. In recent food safety outbreaks, such as the romaine lettuce e coli outbreak, an entire industry was halted because of a lack of data on the source of the contamination. With blockchain, investigators could have quickly traced the source of the contamination and acted to remove the product from the market. Using these technologies will reduce the need for large scale recalls and, more importantly, increase consumer safety. We applaud the efforts of the FDA’s blueprint and we’re pleased language for FDA food traceability measures were included in the FY2020 House Appropriations report language.

In recent discussions with stakeholders utilizing blockchain technology, we heard several ideas and comments that we urge your full and fair consideration of:

Consider creating incentives for entities to invest in advanced technologies, like blockchain, to aid with foodborne illness outbreaks and regulatory compliance.

Foster public-private collaboration to find ways to transparently share data in a protected environment during foodborne illness outbreak or similar critical need.

Continued messaging on permissioned food safety blockchain as an enterprise application to encourage companies in the food system to invest in technologies that can operate parallel to federal compliance requirements. However, it will be important to encourage open standards and governance to allow for interoperability between platforms.

Again, thank you for your attention to this very important issue, and for your expediency in looking at technological solutions to make vital government functions work efficiently.

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