Loblaw’s project traces beef back to plant

Canadian AAA beef in 77 Real Canadian Superstores in Western Canada is now traced back to the exact animal from which it came.


Loblaw is using DNA technology from IdentiGEN, which specializes in trace backs for agriculture and food companies. 


IdentiGEN also provided traceability for the Certified Ontario Cornfed Beef program in Ontario Loblaw stores, implemented in May 2013.


IdentiGEN said the meat will have a label indicating that its origins have been tracked.


“The program really isn’t designed for a consumer to trace the product,” said Amanda Pokorny of IdentiGEN.


“Because it’s such a complex scientific system, samples are done thousands at a time. Loblaw’s has already taken the work out of that for the consumer and they’ve already done that traceability process themselves.”


Loblaw senior vice-president Sal Baio said in a news release that the company sees traceability as important for consumers who want more information on how their meat is produced. He said DNA information enables the company to identify the origin for any Canada AAA beef cut.


Loblaw did not respond to requests for information on protocols or planned quality improvements.


Pokorny said DNA tracing begins when an animal enters the plant.


“Essentially, an animal goes into the abattoir and the product is swabbed for DNA and then the IdentiGEN lab puts the DNA information in a database,” she said. 


“Then the animal goes through the supply chain and at another point in the supply chain the product is again DNA tested and then that DNA sample is matched back to the animal of origin.”

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