FDA exploring use of AI, blockchain to monitor food safety

The FDA is launching a new pilot program that will use artificial intelligence to improve monitoring of foodborne illness risk, and is also considering implementing a blockchain network to track food for the same purpose, the agency announced.

As part of the "New Era of Smarter Food Safety" plan, the FDA will utilize AI and machine learning to streamline the inspection process for imported foods. "The number of import food lines is increasing year after year, and applying the best predictive and analytical tools will help ensure we're targeting the greatest risks to protect consumers," the announcement reads.

Additionally, the FDA will explore the use of blockchain and other distributed ledger technology to improve food traceability. These tools, which are already being used in the FDA's efforts to better track medicines throughout the supply chain, will allow the agency to confirm the origin of contaminated food mere minutes after an outbreak is reported, rather than days or weeks later.

Other proposed tech initiatives include collaborations with e-commerce food delivery models, as well as implementation of systems like sensors and the "internet of things," all in service of the FDA's goal to create a safer, more transparent nationwide food system.

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