Many people talk about it, but what is the blockchain? To put it simply, it is the technology behind QR Codes (Quick Response Codes).
Many pasta factories already use them in the name of transparency towards the consumer. A few names: Barilla, Giovanni Rana, Pastificio Andalini, Pastificio Fabianelli, Pastificio Morena.
That is how it works. After having downloaded the application on his own mobile, the user frames the QR Code on the pasta package. The user can then visit the company’s website and obtain information on the nutritional values of the product, purchase advice, recipes, anti-waste suggestions. In a nutshell, the consumer can read the identity card of the pasta he finds on the shelf and read its history, from the field to the point of sale.
Going into more detail, the blockchain allows the collection and transmission of information
in a manner considered as secure and without the supervision of a central control body. In short, it is a shared and immutable data structure, a digital register whose entries are grouped in “pages” (“blocks”) and linked in chronological order. In a nutshell, with this tool, pages of information can be added to the chain and, once entered, they can no longer be modified. Seeing the sequence of information, those who arrive after can add, if authorized, new information, publishing other pages.
More and more pasta factories are using QR Codes
For the operators of the pasta production chain, in the future, the blockchain could be a tool for integrating other systems for recording operations (control, transport, processing), making the sharing of detailed information more stable, to the benefit of the operators themselves and as proof of transparency towards the control bodies, certifying bodies and auditors. The company earns a reputation towards the final consumer, showing that it is committed to transparency, but it can also use the QR Code to insert advertising or other commercially useful tools. This must obviously be done in compliance with the regulations: from a legal point of view, this type of communication is part of the voluntary information that the entrepreneur can declare under the conditions laid down, mainly, by Regulation (EU) 1169/2011. It means that what is disclosed must be specific, fair and relevant.
According to experts, this technology could also help increase the safety of the food we bring to our tables. It would be useful, for instance, in case of alerts and product recalls. In fact, even when the food is already on the market, the manufacturer can intervene on the blockchain and insert the news of the alert, informing the consumer in real time (provided that the latter checks the QR Code). The consumer will know, therefore, that the package in his hand should not be consumed but returned. This is the case even if the product was purchased before the alert.
Yet, we need common standards. A set of rules to follow. In fact, the law does not require you to have a mobile phone or to check what the QR Code says. For this reason, for the time being, this technology cannot replace the ordinary information systems, nor those of alert or nutritional information, or allergens. Therefore, it is appropriate to consider the blockchain and the QR Code as additional means of connection between producer (or distributor) and consumer/buyer.
QR Code is useful to give a lot of info and to insert advertising
It should be noted that the system works in two directions: on the one hand, the consumer can obtain in-depth information on the product and the supply chain, on the other hand, the manufacturer can obtain information on people who have read the QR Code (in compliance with the regulations on privacy). For example, they can find out where consumers are connected from and, therefore, obtain live information on sales, territorial distribution…
However, there are some dark sides. As in all computer systems, also in this one we have the certainty that information has been produced by a technologically identified subject, without identifying the natural person who has entered the data. Moreover, whatever is inserted in the blockchain is protected and cannot be changed, but it could also be false, as any statement made on and with any other support (paper, verbal or computer). From a legal point of view, the information stored in the blockchain is a matter of fact, and therefore it provides documentary evidence of the business activity. Therefore, pending the official publication of a specific legislation on the role of this technology in certain operations, it is advisable to use the computer pages chain mainly to establish a relationship of trust between consumer and producer.