Traceability refers to processes allowing the tracing of an animal or animal product all the way through the supply chain, from birth to slaughter. A fully functional livestock traceability system is based upon three pillars:
- Animal Identification – each animal has a unique identification number
- Premises Identification – is a geographic location which can be used for disease, health and food safety purposes and effective emergency response.
- Animal Movement Tracking – provides the ability to trace where an animal has been and what animals it has come in contact with over the course of its life. In the event of a disease outbreak, knowing the movement history of an animal is very important in supporting efficient trace-back.
Together, these enable the Office of the Chief Provincial Veterinarian (OCVP) or other emergency management officials to pinpoint and isolate specific sites of concern and target resources in the event of a threat to animal or human health as a result of a natural disaster. The integrity of this system also translates into opportunities for Alberta’s livestock and meat industries to differentiate their products. A comprehensive traceability system provides necessary assurances to markets and consumers around the world that our products are safe and of high quality.
In July 2010, the federal-provincial and territorial Ministers of Agriculture agreed that by 2012, Canada will have has a robust and reliable traceability system that delivers full confidence in source verification for all livestock species, including cattle, hogs, sheep, poultry and horses. This includes having in place 48-hour emergency response and tracking capabilities. Legislation will be in place to mandate this program.
More details are available on the Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development Traceability site.
Traceability for sheep producers
The first two pillars are already mandatory in Alberta for sheep producers.
- Animal Identification:
- Premises Identification
- Animal Movement Tracking is still in development
Alberta Lamb Producers is communicating with the government on traceability, representing producer interests as this mandatory program is being developed.
Producers will not be required to purchase readers, software etc, but negotiations have begun on the availability of Growing Forward funding to assist with purchase of equipment for those producers who choose to use RFID for management purposes.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags and technology can provide improved management tools as well as preparing the industry for traceability. The RFID factsheet series will help producers take maximum advantage of these opportunities.