The traceability of cattle may soon enter the electronic age, further increasing food safety. At the Paris ‘Salon de l’Agriculture’ (19th-27th February) the European Commission announced it is preparing a proposal for electronic identification in bovines, upgrading the existing plastic tagging system. DG SANCO, the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Consumers, is confident this step will further increase the traceability of animals and food products for veterinary and food safety purposes, controlling the spread of animal diseases, with veterinarians playing a key role in the process. This further highlights the diverse role vets play in our daily lives.
Strengthening the current system of animal traceability in the EU
The European Commission is working on a proposal to introduce electronic identification in bovine animals, as the traceability of animals and animal products across Europe plays an important role in protecting both animal and consumer health. Currently there is specific EU legislation on the use of electronic identification for other animals in the EU (e.g. pets, horses, sheep and goats), but with bovine electronic identification it could mean an estimated 90 million animals are included into the digital control system.
Digital ID brings benefits for farmers and food industry
The traceability system has already proven its value. E-reading offers new opportunities for all of the industry, making the current system of traceability more accurate and faster, therefore improving our ability to trace animals and food products for veterinary and food safety purposes. This is necessary to manage disease outbreaks when they occur. Electronic identification will simplify the current procedures and reduce the administrative burden. The system will increase the competitiveness of the sector, as it is an excellent tool for improving farm management and on-farm automation. Other benefits from electronic tagging will be breed improvement and fraud prevention.
Bernard Van Goethem, Director for the Animal Health and Welfare (DG SANCO), said: “Including bovines in our traceability programme will be a major step in our activities in 2011. Traceability helps to ensure the highest possible levels of food safety and hygiene. It is vital in preventing the spread of foot-and-mouth disease, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), and classical swine fever. In addition, traceability ensures food quality and taste via accurate labelling.”