Global Animal I.D., traceability update at O.I.E. conference

by Bryan Salvage
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BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA — Progress being made to implement global animal identification and product traceability was addressed by The World Organization for Animal Health (O.I.E.) and its members at the O.I.E. International Conference on Animal Identification and Traceability.

"Discrepancies between national identification of live animals and traceability systems of animal products make it difficult to trace products of animal origin throughout the food chain at the world level; developing countries risk losing out on market access because of trade barriers that sometimes are put in place as a result of these discrepancies," said Dr. Bernard Vallat, O.I.E. Director General. "The best way to prevent this is for all countries to progressively implement international standards, such as those of the O.I.E. and Codex."

During the conference, participants confirmed the need to strengthen the bridge between identification and traceability of live animals and of products of animal origin. "We should aim at establishing traceability throughout the whole food chain from primary production down to consumers," said Dr. Kazuaki Miyagishima, Secretary for the Codex Alimentarius Commission. "The public health goal can be achieved by seamlessly applying the standards and principles established by the O.I.E. — at the farm level — and by the Codex Alimentarius Commission — at the food-processing and distribution level."

Identification and traceability systems recommended and used by the public and the private sector, however, can be based on very different requirements, which complicates the conditions of trade in live animals and products of animal origin.

"We encourage the stakeholders to comply with the official standards of the O.I.E. and Codex Alimentarius Commission and not to establish unilateral standards that conflict with the official standards and jeopardize the importation of animal products from developing countries," Dr. Vallat said. "On the basis of O.I.E.’s ongoing work in reinforcing Veterinary Services’ capacities, using the O.I.E. Tool for the Evaluation of Performance of Veterinary Services (O.I.E. P.V.S. Tool), which has the requirements of the O.I.E. Terrestrial Code as its legal base, the experts defined the development of good governance, applied research, capacity building, education and communication in animal identification and traceability as priorities for developing countries."

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