If you’re a farmer, especially a farmer who prides themselves on growing the best, 100% grass-fed animals over the course of a year or more, you probably want to ensure that you get the highest quality cuts of meat back in exchange. More specifically, you probably want the exact animal you brought in.
How do you make sure this happens? Can you be sure that you’re getting only your animal back from the meat processor? The short answer is yes. At This Old Farm, a 100% traceable facility, we know how important it is that you get back what you’re bringing to us. Since 2009, we’ve been providing meat processing, packaging, and marketing services to our partners.
In this article, we’re going to explain exactly what “traceability” is, and why it’s so important. By the end of the article, you’ll have a clear understanding of what traceability is, and why it’s so important within the meat processing industry.
What is “traceability” when it comes to meat processing?
In short, traceability is the ability to track meat products backward from their source animal from growth and feeding, slaughter, processing, and distribution, to the point of sale or consumption, in a comprehensive manner.
Consumers are becoming more aware of what they’re buying and eating than ever, and being able to trace an animal back to a particular facility is a means of transparency more and more people are looking for.
How is traceability achieved?
At This Old Farm, you are guaranteed to get back the meat that you bring in. This is not common practice, especially when a farmer or customer is bringing in large animals, which are typically sold as halves or quarters.
Traceability in this case means that if you bring us an animal, you’re getting back meat that comes exclusively from that animal, down to the ear tag number.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has their own guidelines and literature on this process, but it starts with a few key pieces of information.
When a carcass is divided into smaller parts, each piece will have a barcode or other type of identifier that is specific to the carcass or cut of meat as it moves through the processing facility.
This barcode includes the animal’s unique identifier, along with other metadata like the time of arrival, when processing started, who processed it, etc. The barcode will typically not leave the packaging factory and is only used in the processing facility for identification and informational purposes.
What does 100% traceability mean for This Old Farm customers?
As we mentioned above, This Old Farm is a 100% traceable facility. Let’s use an example of how it would work if a customer brought us a 100% grass-fed animal. We can ensure that they are only getting that animal back, and we can work with them to create the labels necessary in identifying it as 100% grass-fed beef, giving them a leg up for consumers.
It’s important to note that the majority of other facilities, at any level of inspection, will pool meat from similar animals to keep their efficiencies up to keep costs low. This Old Farm’s customers are cost conscious, but it’s more important to them to get back their specific animal that they took thirty months to raise.
So, not only can we promise you that all of the meat you’re going to get back is coming from this particular animal right down to its ear tag number, but we can promise your meat is only coming from that half of that animal that we assigned them.
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