FDA Considering Adopting Blockchain Technology to 'Track and Trace' Food Recalls

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year one out of six Americans - or 48 million people - get sick from germs in food. Out of those millions, about 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. The germs behind the food contamination include listeria, salmonella, E. coli and cyclospora.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently dealing with an E. coli outbreak found on contaminated romaine lettuce. The FDA says forty-three people in twelve states have been infected with the outbreak strain since October. Although the outbreak has now been narrowed down to six counties in California, it has taken weeks to determine the source. The problem of how to quickly trace the origin of contaminated food has pushed the FDA to pursue blockchain-based solutions.

Dr. Laura Gieraltowski, head of the CDC’s foodborne outbreak response team, told NBC the current process is difficult and time-consuming. “Grocery stores might not keep the box that has the labels from the distribution center was or where the grower was,” stated Dr. Gieraltowski. This contributes to an overall lack of records making it difficult to track where the food came from.

“We are in a challenging position in that we have not been able to fully isolate it to one specific grower or region to issue a mandatory recall,” FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told NBC News. Gottlieb hopes the FDA's recent hiring of Frank Yiannas, Walmart’s vice president of food safety, as deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, will help push the agency towards blockchain-based solutions to tracking food contamination.  “One of his specific areas of expertise is the development of blockchain technology for track and trace."

A blockchain could serve as a ledger to track every head of lettuce, or box of fruit, from farm to store to restaurant to consumer. “We’d like to link the outbreak back to a specific grower, a specific farm, a specific distributor," Gottlieb said.

NBC notes that Walmart itself is working on getting its food suppliers to adopt IBM's computer technology so they can implement blockchain solutions. If this solution works for Walmart and other food producers future outbreaks of germs might be dealt with more quickly and efficiently. Food products would be labeled and scanned through their entire journey. In the event of an outbreak, officials would be able to locate the source of contamination and warn consumers faster.

OneCoin Denies Being a ‘Hybrid Ponzi-Pyramid Scheme’

The controversial OneCoin organization has recently responded to the Central Bank of Samoa, claiming it isn’t a “hybrid ponzi-pyramid scheme” as it doesn’t fir the definition of these schemes, and that it is a centralized, closed cryptocurrency.

According to the Samoa Observer, the Central Bank of Samoa claimed OneCoin is a “hybrid ponzi-pyramid scheme” that “laundered money through New Zealand to Samoa.” It also claimed the organization was targeting local residents through churches.

The organization, widely believed to be running a pyramid scheme using the cryptocurrency space, sent a statement to the Observer defending itself, claiming it’s neither a pyramid nor a Ponzi scheme. It’s worth noting individuals associated with OneCoin have been arrested and charged in various countries, including China and India.

In its response, OneCoin argued that Ponzi schemes see the revenue of old investors be “generated through the investment of new investors,” and that it doesn’t require its agents, known as Independent Marketing Associates (IMAs), to recruit others in order to earn bonuses.

Its defense revolves around IMAs not being “obliged to incur any additional expenses or recruit a new IMA,” and that they are rewarded for the “value of [their] sales,” not for recruiting new agents.

The organization added pyramid scheme regulations are these for “consumer protection,” and that its IMAs aren’t consumers. This, as when they join the organization they sign a contract classifying them as “self-employed business owners.”

The users which are part of the OneLife Network are NOT consumers. They are IMAs, meaning they are self-employed business owners.

As CoinDesk notes, OneCoin argues it isn’t a pyramid scheme because its agents aren’t seen as consumers and, as such, it can’t be classified under a dictionary definition of a pyramid scheme, and doesn’t force its IMAs to recruit new agents, although they’re incentivized to do so.

OneCoin, instead, argue it is a “centralized, closed cryptocurrency” with strict anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) rules, which make it “much more compliant than decentralized [cryptocurrencies].”

As reported, OneCoin’s leaders Ruja Ignatova and Konstantin Ignatov were recently indicted by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) on charges of wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering. Konstantin was arrested in March of this year.

Moreover, earlier this month former OneCoin investor Christine Grablis filed a lawsuit against the organization’s promoters, with Grablis’ attorney claiming OneCoin’s founders created a multi-billion dollar ‘cryptocurrency’ company based completely on lies and deceit.”