Animal identification plan given thumbs-up

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The Executive Board approved AVMA endorsement of the United States Animal Health Association resolution regarding the United States Animal Identification Plan, with the caveat that, in the future, consideration be given to extending the plan to also serve as a food safety management tool.

The identification plan's goal is to protect American animal agriculture by safeguarding animal health. The plan is designed to do this by using a system that can identify individual animals or groups, the premises where they are located, and the date of entry to the premises. The USAHA also plans to offer the ability to retrieve that information within 48 hours of a confirmed disease outbreak and to implement intervention strategies.

While this goal is admirable, the AVMA Food Safety Advisory Committee and the Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine, which recommended AVMA endorsement, believe that the plan also offers an opportunity to improve food safety. To do this, the plan will need to be changed to permit backward traceability to animal producers, from points in the food chain downstream through slaughter, processing, distribution, and sale. The current plan does not allow for the requisite identification at the slaughter plant.

Animal identification will permit forward and backward traceability of food safety hazards associated with live animals, provide accountability for actions of livestock producers affecting food safety, and permit interventions to improve and prevent food safety risks.