The service, operational from 2019, was described by UK environment secretary Michael Gove as “instrumental in providing guarantees to consumers about the origin of their food”.
“Working hand-in-hand with industry, we will design and implement a service that puts food safety, animal health and welfare and environmental enhancement at its core.”
The announcement follows work done by the Traceability Design User Group (TDUG), a consortium of industry representatives that include the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, Food Standards Agency and the National Farmers' Union (NFU).
As well as the creation of the livestock traceability service, the group also looked to provide safeguards against disease outbreaks whilst ensuring livestock standards remain high before and after the events of Brexit.
The use of electronic ID’s has been initially adopted for the identification and tracking of dairy cows, cattle, sheep, pigs and goats.
Shared data capabilities
John Cross, chairman of the Traceability Design User Group, described the technology approach to “make it simple for farmers, food chain companies and government to use the service and reap the benefits of shared data”.
The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA)—another member of the TDUG—said that the ability to know the location of every animal in the country in real time will be particularly useful to companies operating in the meat industry.
It added that the new service would increase operating efficiency by allowing it to see what animals are coming through the supply chain and plan production capacity accordingly.
“I’m very proud that the work John Cross and I started four years ago has now become a reality,” said Nick Allen, now chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association.
“The new Livestock Information Service will put Britain at the forefront of farm to fork traceability and cement our position as one of the world’s best food producing nations.”
“BMPA is now looking forward to working with its members to help them get the most out of the Livestock Information Service once it is launched.”
NFU President Minette Batters said it was essential that the government and industry work together adding that “this is totally transformational, underpinning our reputation in producing some of the best meat and livestock products in the world”.
“It’s a win for government, a win for team agriculture and, most of all, it’s a win for the consumer."