IBM is using its blockchain platform to improve food safety in China.

The Blockchain Food Safety Alliance, a collaboration between IBM, Walmart, JD and Tsinghua University, is going to harness the digital ledger system to lock trust and transparency into the country’s food supply chain.

They will partner with regulators and ‘food supply chain providers’ to develop robust standards for the implementation of blockchain technologies.

“Simply put, blockchain is a distributed ledger that provides a way for information to be recorded and shared by a community.”

“Blockchain holds incredible promise in delivering the transparency that is needed to help promote food safety across the whole supply chain. This is a fundamental reason why IBM believes so strongly in the impact this technology will have on business models. By expanding our food safety work with Walmart and Tsinghua University in China and adding new collaborators like JD.com, the technology brings traceability and transparency to a broader network of food supply chain participants,” explained Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Industry Platforms.

IBM, Walmart and Tsinghua University have previously demonstrated the value of blockchain to food systems. Walmart traced mangoes in seconds along the supply chain, a process that traditionally takes days or weeks.

And monitoring food from its origins to the supermarket shelf, more efficiently and reliably, has the potential to save lives, as according to the World Health Organisation, 400,00 deaths annually are caused by food contamination.