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AIM Global publishes technical report on RFID for food animal ID

WARRENDALE, Pa -- AIM Global has announced the publication of a Technical Report entitled "RFID for Food Animal Id...

WARRENDALE, Pa — AIM Global has announced the publication of a Technical Report entitled “RFID for Food Animal Identification in North America.”

With the frequent transport of food animals, primarily beef cattle, across borders in North America and the recent BSE (“mad cow disease”) incidents, both Canada and the U.S. have issued mandates to improve life time tracking of cattle. The Technical Report was developed in response to those mandates.

The Technical Report includes recommendations for the use of existing Low Frequency (LF) RFID ear tags (conforming to ISO 11784, ISO 11785, and ISO 14223) as well as Ultra High Frequency (UHF) (conforming to ISO/IEC 18000-6B, ISO/IEC 18000-6C [when published], ISO/IEC 15961, ISO/IEC 15962, and ISO/IEC 15434).

While both bar code and LF RFID ear tags have been available for a number of years, they encode only a unique animal ID, have limitations in range and require access to an external database for pertinent data. Recommendations in the Technical Report include provision for pertinent data to be recorded directly in memory on the ear tag, speeding data collection and animal identification.

The Technical Report recognizes the existing ISO standards for the use of Low Frequency (LF) RFID ear tags but details the benefits that could be recognized by utilizing the expanded data content and read range available with newer Ultra High Frequency (UHF) RFID tags. These expanded capabilities could greatly facilitate the rapid identification of animals throughout the supply chain in the event of biological or toxicological health threats.

The Technical Report also details how the expanded data capacity of UHF ear tags could be used to record data that would be of use to animal owners, feed lots, auction houses and processing plants beyond simple compliance with government mandates. These benefits could provide economic incentives to use UHF RFID ear tags by providing individual users with instant access to animal management data.

Tests at Kansas State University, as well as tests performed by several wildlife management groups, have shown that UHF RFID can be used for food animal ID and is compatible with farming and ranching practices used in North America. The Technical Report outlines the use of expanded memory capacities and read/write capabilities of UHF RFID for food animal ID that are not available with current LF systems. The Report also highlights the greater range provided by UHF systems that can simplify animal handling during identification.

With a number of wildlife management groups piloting UHF animal ID tags because of the increased read range and extended data capability, it underscores the probability that other types of food animals will also be identified using RFID ear tags and the document was designed to be applicable to all current species of food animals.

AIM Global acknowledges that commercial products that can conform to the rigorous environmental conditions and performance criteria specified in the Technical Report are not yet widely available. However, it is expected that this report will foster the further development of such products and that without the guidance provided by the Report, a wide range of products with widely differing capabilities and memory allocations might be developed and offered as possible solutions. The Technical Report will facilitate the development of standard products that will meet the increasing demands for rapid and accurate food animal identification and traceability by both governmental regulatory agencies as well as the food supply chain itself.

The Technical Report, in its title, acknowledges that this guidance may not be suitable for use in some parts of the world. Governments and users outside North America may have different requirements for food animal identification or different UHF radio regulations. However, its content is not intended to be limited exclusively to use in North America. Other countries that have UHF regulations and food animal processing procedures similar to those in North America and are considering their options in identifying animals are encouraged to use this Technical Report as a basis for their own national standards, or to communicate with AIM Global any requirements that might be incorporated into future versions of this AIM Global Technical Report.

The document is currently available as a free download from the AIM Document Library at:

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