Report: New Zealand needs livestock identification system

Posted August 19, 2005, as reported by just-food.com: Every animal on every farm needs to be traceable, according to the Meat and Wool New Zealand report. The report which comes amid world wide food health scares such as mad cow disease and bird flu recommends a compulsory animal identification system be adopted by October 2007, the New Zealand Herald reports.

The report also cites a need to improve animal identification or "traceability" to meet the needs of safety-conscious consumers in Europe and Asia.

Starting with cattle and deer, every animal on every farm will be given a unique identification number it will carry all the way to market. Cattle identification schemes are already mandatory for all major trading partners except the US.

Meat and Wool chairman Jeff Grant said that while New Zealand had a good voluntary system, it was vital from a marketing perspective that international customers could be given the assurance of a national ID system.

"The whole thing has been totally driven by BSE," Grant said.

He said customers in countries such as Japan and Korea were demanding that sort of assurance.

Grant said the cost of a national system did not have to be huge. The existing framework could be built on so the 2007 timeframe was achievable. New Zealand's livestock is almost exclusively grass-fed making the risk of a BSE outbreak negligible.

But Grant said the first question international consumers ask about beef was not where it was from, but: "Is it safe?"