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story.lead_photo.caption In this Oct. 28, 2009, file photo, a Tyson Foods, Inc., truck is parked at a food warehouse in Little Rock. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

Tyson Foods Inc. plans to use DNA samples from cattle to trace where its beef has been so it can share the information with consumers.

When retailers and food service providers buy Tyson's Open Prairie line of Angus beef products they can soon check where each cut of steak, roast or even ground beef was born, raised and moved.

Tyson plans to trace these beef products from pasture to point-of-sale by taking DNA samples of the cattle that enter its Open Prairie program, in partnership with an international firm that can trace food through supply chains using genetics technology.

"This is about meeting growing demand for more transparency about how food is produced," said Kent Harrison, Tyson's vice president of marketing and premium programs at Tyson Fresh Meats.

Market research shows that consumers continue to want to know more about the food they buy. University researchers have been urging more traceability and transparency from companies for food safety reasons. Shoppers, on the other hand, more or less want to know if the chicken or beef they buy at the store was treated well before processing.

Tyson's intent is to assure customers that the Open Prairie beef products they buy came from ranches where cattle were raised without antibiotics or added hormones, the company said in a news release. The cattle are traceable to the birth ranch, fed an all-vegetarian diet and the line of products are verified by third-parties.

Tyson Fresh Meats, the company's beef and pork business, is using a tool developed by IdentiGEN to inform customers exactly where each product went as it moved through the supply chain.

IdentiGEN's DNA Traceback system does this for Tyson and other major food companies around the world. The genetics data firm has international offices and labs with domestic headquarters in Lawrence, Kan.

"We're excited to partner with an industry leader like Tyson Fresh Meats," said Kent Partida, vice president of North American business development for IdentiGEN. "It will enable retail and food service customers of Open Prairie beef to confidently share their traceability story with shoppers."

Cattle raised for Open Prairie come from ranches in the Midwest and along the northern West Coast. Independent ranchers that work with Tyson raise their cattle in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon and Washington. The beef is then harvested in Lexington, Neb., at Tyson's Fresh Meats plant.

A company spokesman said Open Prairie makes up less than 10 percent of Tyson's beef business, but it is growing fast.

IdentiGEN and Tyson announced collaboration efforts on Thursday.

Business on 03/15/2019

Print Headline: Tyson to trace beef using DNA of cattle

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