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OIE International Conference on Animal Identification and Traceability "From the farm to the fork"

Buenos Aires, Argentina March 23-25 2009

Buenos Aires, March 25 2009 – The OIE and its Members move forward on the global implementation of animal identification and product traceability “from the farm to the fork” at the close of the OIE International Conference on Animal Identification and Traceability held in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 23 to25 March 2009.

“Discrepancies between national identification of live animals and traceability systems of animal products make it difficult to trace products of animal origin throughout the food chain at world level; developing countries risk losing out on market access because of trade barriers that sometimes are put in place as a result of these discrepancies. The best way to prevent this is for all countries to progressively implement international standards, such as those of the OIE and Codex”, Dr Bernard Vallat, OIE Director General, explained at the Conference.

Participants also confirmed the need for strengthening the bridge between identification and traceability of live animals and of products of animal origin. “We should aim at establishing traceability throughout the whole food chain from primary production down to consumers. The public health goal can be achieved by seamlessly applying the standards and principles established by the OIE - at the farm level - and by the Codex Alimentarius Commission - at the food processing and distribution level,” Dr Kazuaki Miyagishima , Secretary for the Codex Alimentarius Commission insisted .

But identification and traceability systems recommended and used by the public and the private sector can be based on very different requirements, which complicates the conditions of trade in live animals and products of animal origin. “We encourage the stakeholders to comply with the official standards of the OIE and Codex Alimentarius Commission and not to establish unilateral standards that conflict with the official standards and jeopardize the importation of animal products from developing countries,” Dr Vallat said. .

On the basis of OIE’s ongoing work in reinforcing Veterinary Services’ capacities, using the OIE Tool for theEvaluation of Performance of Veterinary Services (OIE PVS Tool), which has the requirements of the OIE Terrestrial Code as its legal base, the experts defined the development of good governance, applied research, capacity building, education and communication in animal identification and traceability as priorities for developing countries.

“The Conference resulted in practical advice to help national Veterinary Services and other relevant stakeholders play their role regarding animal identification and traceability systems which I believe are of utmost importance for a broader and fairer international trade of animals and animal products,” commented Dr Nestor Amaya, Representative of the Government of Argentina and national Delegate to the OIE.

The Conference gathered actors from all relevant sectors, including senior representatives of governments and private sector organisations, farmers, processors, identification and traceability equipment industries, retailers, consumers and scientific research organisations.

The Conference benefited from the kind support of the Government of Argentina, the European Commission and the United States Department of Agriculture as well as of several private companies

Technical excellency was ensured by the participation of high level experts, most of them being involved in the work of both the OIE and the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

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