Developer targets injectable RFID ink at meat market

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bovine spongiform encephalopathy Radio-frequency identification

A biocompatible radio-frequency identification (RFID) ink would
allowprocessors to track individual cuts of meat or vegetables,
allowing them to make speedy recalls during food contamination

Somark Innovations said this week it successfully tested its chipless RFID ink on cattle and laboratory rats.

"The test proved the efficacy of injecting and reading a biocompatible chipless RFID ink "tattoo" within the skin ofanimals,"​ the company claimed.

RFID has long been touted as the future of logistics for all companies by allowing retailers and suppliers to track goods throughout the supply chain.Regulations on traceability and mandates from such giant retailers as Wal-Mart and Metro are slowing forcing processors to make investments in thetechnology.

Somark said its RFID ink will initially target the livestock industry to help identify and track cattle,as required under rules put in place to prevent the spread of losses from bovine spongiform encephalopathy(BSE), or mad cow disease.

The tests show that once injected into a live animal as a tattoo, scanners can still read theRFID data through the hair. Somark's technology involves the use of an injection device made up ofan array of needles and an ink capsule, which is used to 'tattoo' an animal. The ink can be detected fromfour feet away, and can either be invisible or coloured depending on the application.

"This is a true proof-of-principle and mitigates most of the technological risk,"​said Somark's chief scientist Ramos Mays. "This proves the ability to create a synthetic biometric orfake fingerprint with biocompatible chipless RFID ink and read it through hair."

The company also expects the RFID ink to be of use in tracking prime cuts of meat.

In an interview with Information Age magazine, one of the company's executives said the technology could verify that cuts of meat originated in a hormone-freeenvironment. When eating the meat consumers would break down the ink, which they say does not affecthealth. It could also be used to trace vegetables.

RFID uses a wireless system that helps enterprises track products, parts, expensive items andtemperature-and time-sensitive goods. Transponders, or RFID tags, are attached to objects. The tagwill identify itself when it detects a signal from a reader that emits a radio frequencytransmission.

Each RFID tag carries information on it such as a serial number, model number, colour, place ofassembly or other types of data. When these tags pass through a field generated by a compatiblereader, they transmit this information back to the reader, thereby identifying the object.

Related topics Food safety & quality

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