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Food Quality and Safety in Europe


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Recent cases of animal diseases have cast a shadow over the traditional festivity of dinner parties. Table talk has taken a tumble from light banter, characteristic of good conversation, to concerns over meat safety and quality.

With beef sales falling along with consumer confidence, the OTAG consortium was formed to meet global challenges for managing emerging risks in beef production, with respect to policies of the EU and the so called Southern Cone Countries (South American countries, below the Tropic of Capricorn).

The aim is to provide the industry with new methods for sustainable beef production, emphasising alternative health practices to keep animals healthy and costs low. To keep tabs on the situation, animal-tracking systems have been introduced so that the source of any diseased cattle could be more readily identified, thereby limiting the chances of a wider spread of any infection.


The tracking system follows the movement of meat through all stages of processing. This means that beef on supermarket shelves can be traced back through distribution to production and packaging and even to the slaughterhouse, should it be required. This process is a major step forward in guaranteeing safer foods.

Consumers can feel more comfortable knowing that tomorrow's dinner has been monitored from birth to the retailer. To make this path shorter and clearer, innovative tools and methods for recording reliable and accurate data on the origin and primary production of beef at the farm level have been put in place. Besides condition, mobility, origin, and quality of meat, OTAG also monitors the environmental conditions of the grazing land.

The system takes advantage of emerging technologies, such as geo-informatics, as well as knowledge and expertise from consortium members, and integrates them into a Geo-decisional Prototype System. By inputting data, such as production practices, pasture condition, environmental characteristics and related land use, bovine production risk management can be assessed.

The software, which is easily accessible over the Internet, will comprise both a risk management tool and a database of bovine production best practices. As such, it can support decisionmaking and problem solving, providing almost instantaneous answers to complex questions.


The interaction of experts and user groups will promote knowledge transfer and harmonisation of practices with EU regulation and Southern Cone players.

The adoption of a better traceability system provides a competitive advantage, creating a niche market. The traceability information is recorded by authorised individual operators throughout the beef production chain of Southern Cone Countries. Through research and technological development, new windows of opportunity are opening to global trade.

To root out the potential problems and pitfalls in today's industry, OTAG has begun carrying out an in-depth analysis of current practices throughout the beef production chain. The identification of these obstacles allows the system to develop new knowledge and information on sustainable beef production practices and food safety. In the information era, acquiring knowledge is an asset for generating wealth. In the food industry, gathering information along the supply chain is essential for ensuring good health.

List of Partners

  • Institut de recherche pour l'Ingénierie de l'Agriculture et de l'Environnement (France)
  • Centre de Coopération Internationale de Recherche Agronomique pour le développement (France, Brazil, Argentina, French Guyana)
  • Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (Brazil)
  • Université de Laval, Laboratoire de Géomatique agricole, Faculté de Foresterie et de Géomatique (Canada)
  • Programa Cooperativo para el Desarrollo Agro-alimentario y Agro-industrial del Cono Sur (Uruguay)
Full title:
Operational management and geodecisional prototype to track and trace agricultural production and vitality
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Gerard Chuzel,
EC Scientific Officer:
Ciaran Mangan,
EU contribution:
€ 300,576
Specific Support Action

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top