In the face of recurring animal disease epidemics, the European Union (EU) wants to ensure that its meat products meet high safety standards, and the semiconductor division of Royal Philips Electronics has already implemented its RFID technology for animal tracking through a Spanish reference project and an Italian pilot scheme.
In recent years, the repeated outbreak of animal disease epidemics, such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (BSE), Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Scrapie in livestock herds has considerably changed the attitude of consumers toward meat products. Consequently, the European Council of Ministers has adopted regulations to introduce the electronic identification and registration of goats and sheep using RFID (radio frequency identification technology).
Consumers are increasingly concerned about the origin and quality of the meat they eat. They want guarantees that the food they consume is of the highest safety and quality standards, and that it has been handled safely throughout the entire supply chain from ‘farm-to-fork’. As a result, electronic animal tracking is quickly becoming a significant market, with a potential size of approximately one billion RFID chips worldwide each year.
ISO Animal Standard
Philips aims to support this growing industry with RFID expertise to help curb the outbreak of animal epidemics. “The animal RFID standard, ISO 11784/85, is already widely accepted and will help to drive non-proprietary high volume solutions for livestock tracking. Philips is driving this trend with its current products and an ambitious product roadmap,” said Kurt Bischof, marketing manager for food safety for Philips Semiconductors.
The Cattle-tagging Laws
In late 2003, following the IDEA (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance) RFID animal tracking trial (which was successfully concluded in April 2002), the European Council of Ministers adopted a law throughout Europe requiring the individual electronic tagging of sheep and goats using RFID technology. Under the regulation, chip tagging in compliance with ISO standard 11784/85 will at first be optional but after a transition phase it will become compulsory (from January 1st, 2008 for Member States with a sheep and goat population exceeding 600,000 animals).
Such tagging initiatives will, however, remain optional for EU Member States with a population smaller than 600,000 animals, except for animals intended for trade within the EU. The collected data will be pooled in a central database within each Member State.
In North America, similar activities are already underway. In Canada, electronic tagging will be compulsory as of January 1st, 2005, and following the latest cases of BSE, the USA is also considering compulsory electronic tagging of animals.
The Spanish Trial
Due to its long read-range and its high modulation depth, the HITAG S IC developed by Philips Semiconductors was chosen for use in animal identification trials because it overcomes the large amounts of electronic noise and interference typically found in animal processing plants.
In spring 2003, the Spanish cattle farmers association, FEVEX, presented the concept of a new livestock tracking system for cattle based on the HITAG S chip. In this system, the IC is encased in a glass tube 22mm long and 4mm wide, which is resistant to chemicals and humidity, and injected into the cow just above the hoof. Electronic identification is carried out at convenient pasture and corral points, such as gates and doorways, via reading antennae buried underground.
The Italian Trial
The systems integrator, WINCAT (a Uniteam company), in cooperation with Frosch Electronics, also initiated an animal tracking pilot programme project in Italy, based on the HITAG S chip. This system records animal data at all breeding and handling stages, from birth through to the final sale to the consumer. For the first time, this system makes animals the carriers of all relevant data. As well as being stored in a central database, the data is also present in the RFID chip integrated within the animal’s ear tag. Using an interactive input device (such as laptop, PC or PDA), the chip can provide information on the place of origin, the type of holding, feed used, transport history, and veterinary treatments. This information is also made available via the internet to inspection agencies, retailers, and even to consumers.
More Info: http://www.semiconductors.philips.com
Source: Royal Philips Electronics
Copyright 2003 UsingRFID.com
Reprinted with permission from Using RFID (http://www.usingrfid.com/news)
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