By Bert Moore, Editor, AIM Global
While it is highly desirable to have a single standard for identifying animals and food products, it is not entirely necessary as long as the standard or convention being followed is understood. A company's own internal track-and-trace system, say, for fresh produce, could be used up to the point where a processor or distributor applies its own system. As long as there is a link to the producer's system, there can be an electronic ID trail back to the source.
Many food animal producers have been using bar code or RFID ear, collar or leg tags for years for internal processes. Extending the use of the IDs on these tags throughout the food animal production system (ranch, transport, feed lot, auction house, processor) would not be as monumental or costly as might initially be assumed.
Some large agricultural companies have already embraced the idea of field-to-fork (or at least field-to-processing plant) traceability to limit the size of product recalls, protect brand image and, incidentally, safeguard the public. Many of these companies own or control the production or output in other countries and could, therefore, adopt a track-and-trace methodology for their local businesses without the need for local government regulation or cooperation.