Alibaba Launches Cold-chain Food Traceability System for Coronavirus Prevention

E-commerce giant Alibaba has developed an AntChain-based cold-chain food tracking system as a novel solution to increase efficiency in detecting coronavirus, according to a company’s announcement on Dec. 10.

The cold-chain food tracking system is built on AntChain, a provider offering traceable and decentralized blockchain services.

The system will mark each package of frozen foods with an electronic identification which traces the whereabouts and supply chain history of the product from the assembly line to the customer’s shopping cart.

Regulators will be able to monitor the goods via PC devices or mini-programs. Customers can scan the code on the package on Alibaba’s e-payment affiliate Alipay in case they have food safety concerns.

As of now, the solution has been implemented in several provinces including Hubei, Anhui, Zhejiang and Zhengzhou.

In Wuhan, the ground zero for the covid outbreak in China, the system – named “ELengLian”, which literally stands for cold chain – was officially available to the public on Dec. 10.

The interface of ELengLian on Alipay (Source: Alipay)

On that date, the first ELengLian tracking code was stamped on a package of frozen Thai black tiger shrimp in the Yingshi logistics park in the Dongxihu District of Wuhan, where Alibaba-backed supermarket chain Freshippo’s local B2C freezer warehouse is based.

As of press time, ELengLian has 327 users, according to a search on Alipay.

Although China is recovering to its pre-covid normality after about a year since the first case was reported in the city of Wuhan, a few cases still emerged since November. All of them share one trait – they are related to food imported through a cold chain, especially in the categories of meat and seafood.

From Nov. 7 to Nov. 10, truck drivers, porters, and packages of cold chain food tested positive in cities of Tianjin, Shanghai and Dezhou respectively, China Central Television reported.

In the case of Tianjin, the virus was found on frozen front pork knuckle and pork head meat.

SEE ALSO: Suning’s Stocks Tumble to Six-year Low after Founder Pledges All of the Group’s Shares to Alibaba’s Taobao

Earlier in July, a similar situation stirred up public concerns as Ecuadorian frozen shrimp wrappers were discovered to carry the virus after the infected goods had already been dispatched to various cities and counties in Fujian, Liaoning, Jiangxi, Yunnan and Chongqing.

Inspection on Ecuadorian frozen shrimp wrappers in Yunnan, China. (Source: Plataforma)

However, the exact sources of the virus and its transmission routes remain unclear. “Is the problem with the cold chain or the closed space? Is it transmitted via inhalation or contact? How long does the virus survive?” asked SARS and covid expert Dr. Zhong Nanshan during the 2020 China Health Technology Innovation and Development Conference. “The answers are unknown and we still need to research and study on the issue.”