A process sometimes used to solve crimes will soon be used to identify the origin of steak in Switzerland.
Proviande, an association of Swiss meat producers, recently announced plans to DNA test meat to ensure that meat labelled ‘Swiss’ is definitely Swiss. Starting in spring 2018, samples will be taken from cattle and calves. As the animals pass through the abattoir, samples will be taken from each one and analysed in a laboratory in Switzerland. IdentiGEN, an Irish company, will be the technology partner.
Proviande said the system will mean “When it says it’s ‘Swiss meat’, it is Swiss meat”.
Proviande did not elaborate further in its press release, however being able to trace the origin of a piece of meat might one day mean it is possible to know what the animal has been fed, including medications such as antibiotics.
In addition, knowing whether an animal is related to one which had BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), also known as mad cows disease, would be invaluable should another outbreak of the disease ever occur. The most recent case identified in Switzerland was in 2012 in an animal in Bern imported from Germany in 2006, according to the Swiss Federal Office of food safety and veterinary affairs. There were two cases of BSE in Switzerland in 2011 and some in 2006. The first cases of the disease were detected in 1990. According to the newspaper Le Matin, the total number of cases of the disease recorded in Switzerland is 467.