New ground meat DNA traceback technology debuts

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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RICHMOND, Va. – The first commercial technology to trace ground meat back to its origins using DNA technology has been developed by Performance Food Group, one of the nation’s largest foodservice distributors, and IdentiGEN, a leader in meat traceability systems. As a result, Braveheart Black Angus Burgers from Performance Food Group (PFG), which utilizes this technology, will be served at thousands of US restaurants.

The technology was previously relegated to whole-muscle cuts, however, DNA TraceBack will now trace ground beef to its Black Angus origins. This breakthrough is the result of a partnership between IdentiGEN and the manufacturers of PFG’s Braveheart Black Angus Beef hamburgers.

“This is an exciting development in meat traceability systems because it enables us for the first time to trace a batch of ground beef back to its origins,” says Steve Sands, PFG’s vice president of protein. “DNA TraceBack is a critical tool to verify that Braveheart Black Angus ground beef is what [customers are] getting.

Here’s how the technology works. IdentiGEN’s DNA TraceBack system captures the unique DNA of the Black Angus cattle as they pass through the production chain. Analytical and statistical techniques are used, allowing individual beef patties to be traced back to their origins with precision that remains unachievable with conventional tracking systems, claims Dr. Ronan Loftus, CEO of IdentiGEN North America.

In May 2011, PFG turned to DNA TraceBack to assure its thousands of Braveheart Black Angus restaurant customers, foodservice outlets and grocery retailers that all of its beef – from steaks to hamburger – comes from Angus cattle.

Performance Food Group Company is the parent company of a leading family of foodservice distributors – Performance Foodservice, Vistar and PFG Customized Distribution. Lawrence, Kansas-based IdentiGEN North America Inc. is a leading provider of DNA-based solutions to the agriculture and food industries.

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