South Korea is doing this traceability thing with their farm-to-table movement.
Note: I’m going to set aside the debate about whether people should eat meat (it’s a whole ‘nother article, let’s be real) and talk about best practices in bringing safe cuts of meat to consumers.
Because what South Korea is doing is pretty rad.
The Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has been tracking cattle from birth to the supermarket since 2004 in an effort to assure consumers that food is safe to eat. It’s described as a tightly engineered collection of data for agricultural products from production to the grocery store requiring a lot of coordination between farms, distributors, and middle men.
The program is voluntary unless the brand wants certain designations like GAP (“good agricultural practice”). In order to achieve that coveted label, they are required to register for the traceability program.
The program started when citizens became incredibly skittish about mad-cow disease.
South Korea’s government was thinking about how to protect people:
“The idea was to remove problematic meat before it reached the market. … In this case what they wanted was to be more pro-active to sell meat that is free of bacteria and bad microorganisms.”
Professor Rajiv Kishore, University at Buffalo School of Management
They’re tracing information about the cow, including whether it was ever ill, whether it was given antibiotics, and what farm and group of cows it came from.
All the consumer has to do to find out this information is scan a code on the package.