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Weekly Overview: New Method Tests Pork Provenance

16 September 2013

ANALYSIS - At the start of this week promoting the UK's quality assurance scheme - Red Tractor - a new scientific test has been launched that can identify the country of origin of animal products. Applied first by the pig industry, the test has already revealed some evidence of mis-labelling at one supermarket chain. In the US, the number of new cases of the pig diarrhoea virus continues to rise but at a steady rather than a dramatic rate.

Following extensive research and two years of development and rigorous testing, a scientifically-based system has been introduced to enhance the integrity of provenance and traceability of Red Tractor pork.

It is designed to confirm that pork is indeed British if it says so on pack. It is believed to be the first time the system has been applied in the food industry in the UK.

The new system will not only deliver increased trust throughout the supply chain, it provides consumers with an additional layer of confidence in Red Tractor pork at a time when they are more concerned than ever about the integrity of the meat they buy. It means that Red Tractor pork will benefit from one of the most comprehensive traceability checks available to consumers in the UK.

Known as SIRA – Stable Isotope Reference Analysis – the method links pork to its geographical area of production. It has proved to be so robust in trials that it has now been incorporated into the quality assurance schemes operated by the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA). The BMPA assurance schemes are used as part of the Red Tractor standards for pork and pork products.

Already there has been some evidence that pork chops from one large UK supermarket has been incorrectly labelled as British.

The announcement is timely as the UK's assurance scheme - Red Tractor - is running this week.

In the US, the total number of swine accessions and diagnostic case submissions testing positive for the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) virus is now 584, 31 more than a week ago. The increase is similar to the previous two weeks. 

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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