Effective tracing in Dutch pig chain

by 5m Editor
9 December 2004, at 12:00am

THE NETHERLANDS - The introduction of the General Food Law Regulations in the European Union requires all business operators in the European food and feed sectors to select and implement their own traceability system. This obligation is applicable as of 1 January 2005.

The Regulation does not stipulate the form this system should take; businesses are free to use their own discretion in this matter. Business operators in the Dutch pigmeat sector made their choice twelve years ago, opting for the quality assurance system known as Integrated Chain Control (IKB). Identification and registration of animals and products is one of the cornerstones of this system. Consequently, parties in the Dutch pig chain, such as pig farmers and the meat industry, have not had to make any additional effort to comply with the new statutory requirements.

Traceability system

From 1 January 2005 food and/or feed manufacturers must have a system in place to enable products to be traced one step forward (the immediate recipient) and one step back (the immediate supplier) in the production chain. This system must be able to provide at least the following information about any products received: the supplier’s name and address and the type of product supplied (one-step-back tracing). In the case of any products sold, this means the recipient’s name and address and the type of product sold (one-step-forward tracing). In the Netherlands this information must be kept for a minimum of five years.

Suppliers of advanced information systems would sometimes have us believe that the requirements of the General Food Law Regulations can only be met using highly advanced information systems. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Manufacturers are free to choose the system that suits them best. In the case of the Dutch pig industry, this means systems that are based on the Integrated Chain Control (IKB) quality assurance system.

Records kept by Dutch pig farmers

Farmers that have joined the IKB scheme for pigs must purchase feed exclusively from suppliers that are certified on the basis of the GMP+ code of the Product Board Animal Feed. Under the IKB regulations, pig farmers must receive and keep proof of delivery of feedstuffs at the time of delivery (with label instructions, content and categories of feed ingredients). Records of deliveries and use of veterinary medicines must also be kept. Both statutory and IKB regulations further require any movements of livestock to be reported, and the reports kept. Details of the carrier are recorded in the farm logbook. With any movements of livestock, the delivery date and details of the supplier or recipient are also noted.

All slaughter pigs delivered to the slaughterhouse must be fitted with a metal ear tag bearing a serial number and the holding identification number (UBN). The identification details of the pigs are noted on the IKB delivery documents that accompany the pigs to the slaughterhouse. This ensures that there is no doubt about the origin of any pigs delivered for slaughter. The slaughterhouse uses the identification details to report the slaughter findings back to the pig farmer to enable the latter to optimise farm management practices. IKB slaughterhouses also keep records of which products have been delivered to whom.

The IKB regulations guarantee that IKB pigmeat can be effectively traced. Some Dutch producers even go beyond the IKB requirements, using IKB as the foundation upon which their enhanced traceability systems are built. Buyers of IKB meat can rely on this when they set up their own traceability system.

Source: Dutch Meat Board - 9th December 2004

5m Editor