US meat giant switches to Irish DNA traceability technology

A US meat processing giant, Tyson Fresh Meats, is collaborating with Irish firm IdentiGEN to use DNA technology to trace beef back to the individual animal of origin.

IdentiGEN’s signature “DNA TraceBack” system – widely used in Ireland – will be a key tool to trace the cattle raised for Tyson Fresh Meats’ Open Prairie Natural Angus Beef.

A DNA sample from cattle entering the ‘Open Prairie’ programme will be used to trace the origin of individual cuts of beef as they move through the supply chain.

The DNA TraceBack process is intended to assure customers that the Open Prairie beef products they buy were sourced from ranches where the cattle were raised to meet specific requirements, such as no antibiotics ever and no added hormones, according to the US firm.

Kent Harrison, vice president of marketing and premium programs at Tyson Fresh Meats, said: “This is about meeting growing demand for more transparency about how food is produced,” said

“Through DNA TraceBack, we’re providing our retail and foodservice customers with scientific evidence that they’re getting high-quality natural beef from animals raised the way we promised.”

Kent Partida, vice president of North American business development for IdentiGEN, said: “We’re excited to partner with an industry leader like Tyson Fresh Meats.

Our DNA TraceBack program is the most advanced meat traceability system available and uses nature’s barcode to link meat from the point of sale back to the source.

“It will enable retail and foodservice customers of Open Prairie beef to confidently share their traceability story with shoppers.”

The Open Prairie brand is “continually expanding to meet growing demand for the natural beef line”, according to Tyson Foods, owner of Tyson Fresh Meats.

In addition to no antibiotics or added hormones, the product specifications include: no artificial ingredients; 100% vegetarian diet; traceability to the birth ranch; Angus beef; and rigorous animal welfare standards, according to Tyson Foods.


Initially established as a spin-out of Trinity College Dublin in early 1997,  IdentiGEN now has laboratory operations in the US, Ireland, UK, and Europe with the company’s North American headquarters in Lawrence, KS