China to monitor bird flu with RFID

By Dominique Patton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bird flu, Outbreak, Bird

An RFID tracking system designed to slow the spread of avian flu
will be tested this month by China's poultry industry, currently
facing flagging demand and low prices following several outbreaks
of the disease in different provinces.

The technology, developed by Canadian company Smart-tek Communications, was unveiled to government, academic and industry experts at a conference in Beijing last week.

"Everything is now in place to launch definitive testing in mid-March,"​ said Perry Law, president of Smart-tek.

With an estimated 13 billion chickens in China, the spread of bird flu is a critical issue. Ten people have already died from the disease, according to official figures, and culls in several provinces have led to major losses for many in the industry.

The RTAC-PM ('RFID Tracking Alert Containment and Poultry Monitoring) system was designed for the livestock - and specifically poultry - industry to help governments monitor poultry movement.

"At its core, the RTAC-PM System uses the Internet to report detailed, real-time information about events in the poultry supply-chain to a central monitoring station,"​ said Law.

This central agency can monitor the flow of product over an arbitrary area, from a small town all the way up to an entire country. The system gives instant alert notification of events that could indicate anomalies that may be caused by the onset of disease outbreak.

These events could include excessive mortality rates during growth, and unusual patterns of movement that may suggest an attempt to cover-up disease outbreaks by poultry farmers. Alerts to such events will allow the central agency to dispatch inspectors to investigate.

Information about the production cycle of each specific flock is captured and recorded at the chick producer, growing farm and processing plant. The RTAC-PM system can also track the movements of containers, cages, and trucks used to transport poultry among the various facilities involved in the production process.

Finally, it can track the finished product (both for domestic and export consumption) all the way to the consumer, providing complete traceability from egg to supermarket.

Smart-tek says it has established a relationship with its sole licensee, SES Investment (China), which will serve as the liaison with the central government, helping to implement the system upon final approval by the appropriate authorities.

Related topics: Food safety

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