The food distributor, Performance Food Group (PFG) and IdentiGEN, a leader in meat traceability systems, have developed a commercial solution to trace ground meat back to its origins using DNA technology.
The collaboration marks the first time DNA TraceBack, previously used to trace cuts of meat, has been used to trace ground beef to its Black Angus origins. This deployment follows a collaborative effort that began in January 2010 between IdentiGEN and the manufacturers of PFG’s Braveheart Black Angus Beef hamburgers.
“This is an exciting development in meat traceability systems, because it enables us for the first time to trace a batch of ground beef back to its origins,” said Steve Sands, vice president of protein for Richmond, Va.-based PFG. “Our Braveheart customers demand the highest quality angus beef that has been raised in the Midwest. DNA TraceBack is a critical tool to verify that Braveheart Black Angus ground beef is what they’re getting.
IdentiGEN’s DNA TraceBack system captures the unique DNA of the Black Angus cattle as they move through the production chain. Robust analytical and statistical techniques are employed, making it possible for individual beef patties to be traced back to their origins with precision that is unachievable with conventional tracking systems, says Dr. Ronan Loftus, CEO of IdentiGEN North America, based in Lawrence, Kan.
“This new aspect of our PFG partnership marks the first U.S. use of DNA technology to trace ground beef back through the production chain. PFG is an innovative and progressive organization on the cutting edge of offering traceability to their customers,” Loftus noted.
PFG’s adoption of DNA TraceBack for Braveheart Black Angus Burgers follows the company’s adoption of DNA TraceBack for its steaks, roasts and other beef cuts in May 2011. PFG turned to DNA TraceBack to assure its thousands of Braveheart Black Angus restaurant customers, food service outlets and grocery retailers that all of its beef—from steaks to hamburger—comes from Angus cattle, Midwest-raised on an all-vegetarian, corn-based diet optimized for flavor and tenderness and processed under Braveheart’s standards to produce a consistent, safe and superior eating experience.