“Efforts to develop high-tech versions of the branding iron to track cattle from ranch to dinner table are expected to take on more urgency now that a suspected case of mad cow disease has been found in the United States.
The task force has explored tracking cattle and other farm animals with radio frequency devices in ear tags or implants as part of the U.S. Animal Identification Plan. Other technologies may be required to determine the origin of several different animals that usually make up a batch of ground beef.”
As the frightening reality of domestic Mad Cow disease grips the United States, systems providing extensive food supply visibility will be demanded. Products designed and marketed to protect food from malicious intent will instead first see service protecting consumers from a strange, poorly understood disease.
Mad Cow disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) is similar to the human Creutzfeld-Jakob disease. Both are caused by malformed, infectious and slow moving proteins called prions. While humans cannot be infected with Mad Cow disease, “strong epidemiologic and laboratory” evidence suggests the same agents can cause a variant of Creutzfeld-Jakob.