A Traceability System for Domestic Beef
Following the promulgation of amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation on August 8, 2012, the Department of Health set the legal limits for ractopamine residue in imported beef and stipulated that all products on the market that contain beef must clearly be labeled with the place (country) of origin of the beef ingredient.
The COA, to ensure that domestic beef is labeled according to regulations, has actively promoted the traceability system for domestic beef, as part of the “cloud services” of the Executive Yuan. Taking into account that most agricultural operations in Taiwan are small, and the degree of computerization and digitization is relatively low, there have been difficulties in completely bringing all beef producers into the production-and-marketing traceability system required by the “Agricultural Production and Certification Act” and the “Regulations on Traceability Certification.” Therefore we have come up with the “Domestic Beef Traceability Data Network” for use by small operators of beef-cattle farms and slaughterhouses. Through this network businesspeople will be able to investigate and reconstruct the process that a specific beef product has gone through, which will certainly encourage upgrading in the entire industry. Consumers can also use the system to clearly differentiate and select domestic beef. The main elements of the system, as well as its current status, are as follows:
■ All beef cattle raised in domestic operations of 40 head or more must have ear tags attached, and a file created with information on the place of origin of each tagged animal. In September of 2012, the COA completed purchase of the ear tags as well as a schedule for attaching them. By the end of 2012, ear-tagging and creation of place-of-origin files had been completed for 26,000 head (87% of the total, excluding Kinmen County).
■ In early October of 2012, the COA completed construction of the Domestic Beef Traceability Data Network, assisting cattle operations to get place-of-origin data into the cloud services. Using this network, certificates for beef cattle slaughtered at slaughterhouses can be printed with the QR code. Using this QR code, consumers can trace back information, including the date on which the animal was slaughtered, the beef-cattle farm where it came from, and the slaughterhouse.
■ The COA has also formed an expert team to provide product traceability guidance services to beef-cattle farms, slaughterhouses, and butchering operations, in order to create together a data chain for the domestic beef industry that links points of marketing, slaughtering, and raising.
■ The COA promotes the use of place-of-origin labels for domestic beef products in order to achieve market differentiation from imported beef. In 2012 the COA held 21 lectures to explain place-of-origin labeling, working through local governments to illustrate the policy to local beef sellers. Visits were conducted to 272 domestic-beef points of sale throughout Taiwan to distribute domestic-beef labels for the implementation of the use of place-of-origin labels by sellers of domestic beef. The overall goal is to ensure the sustainable development of the domestic beef industry.
■ As part of the COA’s major goal of promoting “local production, local consumption,” in 2012 we provided guidance in establishing seven shops specializing in the retail sale of domestic beef, in an effort to broaden the market for domestic beef. We also expanded guidance to three beef-cattle farms to join a voluntary production-and- marketing traceability system. In 2012 the volume of beef products certified under this system reached about 25 metric tons. In the future, we will expand this production and marketing traceability system into more beef slaughterhouses or butchering operations, with the aim of increasing the volume of beef covered. We will also coordinate marketing activities at demonstration sites for place-of- origin labeling of domestic beef, in order to broaden consumer awareness of high-quality domestic beef.