BioPet Vet Lab, an animal biotechnology company specializing in DNA applications, has launched IntegriMEAT, a DNA-source verified program aimed to produce an identification and tracking program for America’s livestock. Through a partnership with Southern Natural Foods, a meat processor based in Knoxville, BioPet Vet Lab’s pilot program will first track beef from farm to table providing consumer insight into food sources and product claims.
According to Jim Simpson, president of Southern Natural Foods, the program requires point of origin registration with BioPet by producers, as a DNA sample is taken from existing stock and new birth stock. Then, BioPet maintains a database of cattle at each registered farm and a quick response (QR) code, created at the time of rendering, is maintained through distribution by Southern Natural Foods. Final packaging includes the QR code on the label enabling consumers to easily trace their beef from its farm of origin.
“We’ve always looked at food safety and how DNA applies to food safety,” says Simpson. “What we recognized was the need for a program that would encourage more integrity in food production. The name IntegriMEAT symbolizes that integrity can be obtained in our nation’s food supply chain.”
Officials with BioPet explain its partnership with Southern Natural Foods stemmed from the meat processor’s commitment to offering locally raised beef that exceeds the USDA’s All-Natural requirements.
“Presently, consumers do not have an absolute way of knowing the exact source and quality of their meat,” says Tom Boyd, BioPet Founder and CEO. “People like knowing where their meat comes from, the conditions in which it was raised, and BioPet and Southern Natural Foods are the first to put this information into the consumers’ hands.”
According to Corona Research in Denver, 74% of people in the U.S. believe traceability in the meat market increases its quality while 91% would pay more for beef that can be source verified. DNA-source verified beef provides consumers with peace of mind at the point of sale and also facilitates a targeted, rapid response in time of food safety events. Unlike external forms of identification for livestock, DNS genotyping is an unalterable form of identification that can be tested throughout an animal’s life and post-slaughter.
Furthermore, Boyd explains that using smartphone technology, consumers have the ability to scan the bar code associated with their meat, either on a package at the grocery store, at a display at the butcher shop or on a restaurant menu and therefore track it from farm to fork.
“With this farm to table mentality and tracking technology, meat producers build a relationship of trust and accountability with the consumer,” says Boyd.
Boyd also explains that in addition to offering public DNA-source verified beef, BioPet also offers the producer valuable herd information. “Farms registered in the program have harvest data readily available, allowing the farmer to make culling decisions based on genetic information,” he says. “BioPet will soon increase the functionality of the online database to provide producers a secure, user-friendly system to manage their herds.”