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Putting all your eggs into one blockchain: The Chinese blockchain chicken coup

Putting all your eggs into one blockchain: The Chinese blockchain chicken coup

News of a Chinese blockchain suggests the technology could be used to improve the country’s food safety by implementing a ledger that tracks poultry.

The insurance company ZhongAn is planning to use blockchain tech – traditionally used as a financial ledger that can bypass the banking system, creating a decentralised and safe way to conduct transactions – to keep track of food safety.

The move could go a long way towards remedying a huge food safety problem in China, with customers being able to download an app on their phones allowing them follow any given chicken’s route from farm to supermarket. This will give the buyer access to the history of the bird, along with charts showing activity, according to the Financial Times.

China has a chequered past with unsafe products reaching supermarket shelves, leading to bouts of food poisoning and litigation. There are also issues surrounding the authenticity of the products being sold, with some being marketed as “free range” or “organic” but little proof to show these production methods were adhered to.

“They [the farmers] want to sell these free-range chickens at a higher price but a lot of people don’t know if this is really a free-range chicken,” Francis Tang, ZhongAn’s chief financial officer, explained. The technology, explained Mr Tang, “shows you exactly where it [a chicken] has been” and contains information on what hormones or other harmful elements have been introduced to the product on its journey from farm to plate.

ZhongAn has a reputation for offering products that ‘go against the grain’, so to speak. For the 2014 World Cup, the company offered insurance against unfortunate events stemming from excessive alcohol consumption. While most policies contained clauses that mitigated any pay-out in the event of alcohol consumption, this policy cost less than $1 and covered against alcohol poisoning for 30 days, even paying out up to 280 for hospital fees.