From class project to industry-changing initiative, a new digital tracking system is helping to enhance food safety and quality for BC’s beef sector.

The first provincial system of its kind, the BC Beef Quality Information System (BCBQIS) was developed by the BC Association of Abattoirs and the BC Cattlemen’s Association (BCCA) to offer dual capabilities of carcass traceability and quality assessment.

BCBQIS enables animal tracking from birth through rearing, slaughtering and processing, and is compatible with the federal BIX system to allow for greater streamlining and accessibility of information across Canada.

The quality assessment feature provides feedback on carcass quality to help producers improve management decisions and meet market demand.

According to BCCA General Manager, Kevin Boon, the system was designed to respond to the needs of everyone along the value chain.

“It ensures processors are able to work more efficiently, producers are able to receive feedback from the grading system, and food safety and quality is continuously improved for consumers,” says Boon.

He is especially pleased at the potential rewards the grading component offers producers, allowing them to leverage their quality assessments for local marketing.

“The quality standards system responds to the growing market for niche products, allowing producers and retailers to promote certain attributes such as grass-fed, antibiotic-free, and more,” explains Boon. “Some producers have already begun to categorize their pricing based on their carcass quality scores and yield measurements.”

Launched in October 2013, training for beef producers and processors on the BCBQIS has been ongoing across the province.

For processors like Mike Noullett, implementing enhanced quality control measures at his Prince George abattoir, Kawano Farms, means greater confidence about beef leaving his plant for commercial markets.

Like Boon, Noullett believes that increasing consumer engagement and trust is paramount for industry and public alike.

“It’s about connecting consumers to producers, so consumers can make an informed decision when buying a product,” says Noullett.

Funding: $272,841 through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program. (A0616)