Cheap, simple traceability remains elusive for the beef industry, as is embarrassingly obvious after the announcement of a supposedly world beating scheme in Scotland. Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie promised £6m of taxpayers' money for electronic tagging of all cattle, a move welcomed by nearly everybody, but now it is clear the system could not work. One problem is confusion over the necessary numeric protocol for identifying each animal. Apparently there would have to be two codes. But, the fundamental flaw is the impossibility, technically and legally, of enabling buyers of cattle to use the tag numbers for accessing the beasts' histories recorded at the British Cattle Movement Service in Cumbria. {{MEAT }}

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