North Aurora, Ill. Aurora Packing Company, the 70-year-old premium meat packer and producer of Aurora Angus Beef® in Aurora, Ill., will become one of the first U.S. beef companies to export DNA-traceable beef to South Korea starting in October.
The company recently entered into a partnership with IdentiGEN North America to implement that company's DNA TraceBack® system, which traces Aurora Angus Beef back to the animal of origin via its unique DNA. Aurora is already marketing its Aurora Angus Beef with DNA TraceBack to high-end restaurants and retail stores in the U.S.
Aurora also recently received approval by the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service as a Process Verified Program (PVP) for its use of IdentiGEN's DNA TraceBack system for Aurora Angus Beef. IdentiGEN's DNA TraceBack system received PVP approval in November 2007.
"Aurora Angus Beef meets Korea's high standards for quality and consistency, but we needed DNA-traceability to complete the picture," said Lowell Zoet, VP &; general manager of Aurora Packing Company. "Aurora's management team believes the DNA process will become the new gold standard for traceability of beef cuts back to the animal from which they originated in the beef industry for years to come."
The announcement of Aurora's initiative is timely in light of the strong and growing demand in Korea for U.S. beef, which when combined with Korea's interest in traceability, could lead to significant opportunities for traceable U.S. beef in that country.
A Sept. 26 study ("Economic Assessment of Evolving Red Meat Export Market Access Requirements for Traceability of Livestock and Meat") by the U.S. Meat Export Federation reports that Korea has adopted mandatory traceability programs for its domestic beef, which could eventually lead to similar requirements being applied to imports.
"As more countries adopt animal and meat tracking systems, those early adopters of livestock and meat traceability systems have the opportunity to gain significant market advantages through increased consumer confidence," the report states. The complete study is can be found at http://www.drovers.com/sites/default/files/IALI.pdf.
Distribution of Aurora Angus Beef in Korea will be handled exclusively by J.K. Ha's Supermarket Promotions, Inc., a leading Korean food distributor to high-end restaurants and retail stores.
DNA TraceBack enables retailers, meat producers, meat processors and food service outlets to respond to the growing consumer demand, both domestically and in export markets, for more information about where and how their meat is produced. IdentiGEN conducts DNA TraceBack analysis for U.S. and Canadian companies at its lab in Lawrence, Kan.
Aurora's use of DNA TraceBack system was approved as a PVP after an extensive review and on-site audit of its operations by USDA auditors. PVP designation signifies that the USDA has verified Aurora's use of the DNA TraceBack system as a consistently reliable program in which meat processors, meat producers, retailers and consumers can have confidence.
The USDA Process Verified Program is based on the International Organization for Standardization's ISO 9000 series standards for documented quality management systems. Additional information can be found at http://processverified.usda.gov/.
About IdentiGEN North America
IdentiGEN North America, Inc., is a privately held, venture-backed company, and a leading provider of DNA-based solutions to the agriculture and food industries. It is based in Lawrence, Kansas. Through IdentiGEN's DNA-based TraceBack® system, retailers, meat processors, producers and local governments, for the first time, have the tools to unequivocally trace meat back to its source. Additional information can be found at www.identigen.com and www.dnatraceback.com.
About Aurora Packing Company
Aurora Packing Company is a 70-year-old company based in Northern Illinois. It is the sole and exclusive producer of Aurora Angus® Brand beef, as well as other high-quality branded beef products, produced exclusively from Midwest beef.