New Technology Able to Trace Pork Back to Farm

SCOTLAND, UK - Technology is about to give Scotland’s meat industry the ability to trace pigmeat back to the farm it came from using naturally occurring isotopes found in it.
calendar icon 6 April 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

Quality Meat Scotland last night heralded the development which should help put a stop to claims often made by caterers and retailers who say they are supporting Scottish pig producers when the meat they are using comes from abroad. The technology can be used for fresh pork, processed pig meat products as well as bacon and ham.

QMS said the work, backed by £100,000 in funding by English pig levy board Bpex, was exciting as it could prove beyond doubt where meat comes from. The test, on the verge of being commercially launches, involves measuring the isotopes of five common elements found in pork.

Key to it is the ability to measure the ratio of specific isotopes which differ slightly in their characteristics in different geographic regions throughout the UK and the world, according to The Press and Journal.

These differences are reflected in the tissue of the pigmeat. It is the variation of these elements in the stable isotopes that gives each piece of pigmeat a characteristic signature. QMS said the isotopes of interest were hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and sulphur.

QMS head of industry development Andy McGowan said, “The technology will allow us to give guarantees about country of origin – an important tool to give consumers confidence given the labelling on imported bacon and pork can, at best, be confusing.

“The first stage is developing a library of benchmark samples against which other samples can be judged. This is due to be completed shortly and we will then be a step closer to making this technology available in a form which could be used commercially.”

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