Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
China Earth IBM Technology

IBM Tracks Pork Chops From Pig To Plate 216

Posted by samzenpus
from the name-your-food dept.
dcblogs writes "IBM is deploying technology in China that allows meat suppliers to track a single pig all the way from farm animal to pork chop. Pigs are initially identified with a barcoded ear tag. This identification is then put on bins used to track the various pig parts as they pass through the slaughterhouse, processing plant, distribution center and finally to the clear plastic-wrapped package in a grocer's case. If a consumer buys three pork chops in a package, 'you know that these three pieces of pork chop came from pig number 123,' said Paul Chang, who leads global strategy for emerging technologies at IBM. The goal is to control disease outbreaks, but theoretically this technology could allow a grocer to put a picture on the store package of the pig you are eating."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

IBM Tracks Pork Chops From Pig To Plate

Comments Filter:
  • The real goal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Intron (870560) on Monday December 19, 2011 @01:27PM (#38425030)

    I would like a more stylish ear tag when you start doing this on humans, please.

    • Maybe this is how they're planning to keep track of their global work force.

    • It will happen to humans before it happens to livestock.

      In North America we can't even track which country the meat comes from, let alone which animal.

      http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Regulation/WTO-sides-with-Canada-on-US-meat-country-of-origin-labeling

      Basically, it is so much of a challenge keeping meat from different countries separate so processing plants simply resort to only buying meat from one country where rules to maintain a "country of origin" are implemented. How can we expect there to be an "a
      • by bhcompy (1877290) on Monday December 19, 2011 @01:55PM (#38425408)
        That's why you should eat racehorses. Parentage on racehorses is highly documented.
      • by TheLink (130905)

        In North America we can't even track which country the meat comes from, let alone which animal.

        I heard in Japan it's not uncommon for a farmer's produce to be labelled/displayed with his photo in a supermarket (e.g. vegetables, and stuff like ginger). Read it somewhere[1] and recently asked a friend who is working there.

        Anyone in/from Japan would like to confirm/deny or provide more details?

        [1] http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/business/worldbusiness/11safety.html [nytimes.com]
        By the way, I had to find this using Bing. Google produced tons of unrelated crap for: japanese farmers photos vegetables china "quality co

        • by Calos (2281322)

          It's an obscure thing to search for, so good on Bing for helping you find it... but I'm impressed you found anything with that query.

          japanese farmers photos vegetables china "quality control" supermarket

          I had no idea what you were searching for with that, so I'm impressed either made any sense of it. You were searching for an article based on one attribute tangentially related to the topic, which comprised like two sentences. I wish I could see in aggregate what kinds of searches people make on Bing and G

          • Re:The real goal (Score:4, Insightful)

            by TheLink (130905) on Monday December 19, 2011 @04:35PM (#38427136) Journal

            I had no idea what you were searching for with that

            I was searching for the specific article I remembered reading that contained all those keywords.

            The article dealt with China, Japanese supermarkets, vegetables and photos of japanese farmers. The article contains all my keywords. Your query does not mention China, supermarkets. My query does.

            I'm a nerd. I don't need a search engine or person to "second guess" what I really want. I give the keywords, give me non-link-spam/non-spam articles with all those keywords. If the results are not what I want, I can adjust it for myself. I don't want to try to read Google's "mind" that's trying to read my mind. I don't want to have to put double quotes around every frigging keyword.

            With this sort of results, it's no surprise it's getting harder to search for work related stuff. When I search for something, there's often a chance that the answer does NOT exist on any webpage out there. When that happens, I'm fine if there are zero pages returned. Because I can stop searching and try to figure it out the answers myself. What is useless is 300000 pages that don't contain all my search terms. Then I have to figure out whether the answer isn't published or it's because the search engines all suck and I need to try different sorts of queries...

    • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday December 19, 2011 @01:47PM (#38425314) Journal
      But IBM's tech worked with numbers burned on forearms.
      • by Johann Lau (1040920) on Monday December 19, 2011 @02:03PM (#38425492) Homepage Journal

        I would like a more stylish ear tag when you start doing this on humans, please.

        oh, not to worry! your concerns have long since been recognized.

        United States Patent 5,878,155 [uspto.gov]

        There have been other methods to permanently identify humans. During the holocaust, the Nazis tattooed the arms of Jews with a unique identifying number. On an episode of the "X-FILES," a fictional television program on the FOX television network, a human was abducted by aliens who conducted experiments on the abductee. In order to permanently tag the abductee, the aliens etched a unique bar code onto one of the abductee's teeth. Neither of these methods is practical for marking humans for electronic sale transaction purposes. First, social conscience dictates that any permanent marking of humans not be conspicuous, such as a visible numbering on an arm like the holocaust victims. Second, the bar code must be long enough, large enough, and accessible enough to make the transaction efficient. Thus bar codes on teeth would not be practical because of the limited size of the teeth and the embarrassment caused by sales personnel placing scanning equipment in a customer's mouth.

        There is, therefore, a need in the art for verifying the identity of humans by electronic means that facilitates the transaction of sales, particularly e-money, through computer networks. It is an object of the present invention to overcome problems in the prior art.

        the problem of the prior art being those permanent markings being conspicuous, and that's it. meditate on that for a second.. and then check out the patent no. 4,597,495 which this one cites as reference. merry christmas!

    • by durrr (1316311)
      Facebook timeline good enough?
    • by foobsr (693224)

      I would like a more stylish ear tag when you start doing this on humans, please.

      The whole thing was already perceived as animal farm, so why care about the human aspects.

      CC.

  • then no way in hell they'd implement a picture.

    anyhow, this isn't really news is it? except that they're bothering with this in china(to have a meat supply track where the meat isn't binned to a single big bin at some point in the process).

    • by Millennium (2451) on Monday December 19, 2011 @01:34PM (#38425128) Homepage

      then no way in hell they'd implement a picture.

      You can bet PETA will lobby for legislation mandating it, though. Not that I think they'll succeed, but they'll certainly try.

      • by Forbman (794277)

        The cute picture of the critter out in the pasture, or the reality of it hanging on the hooks?

        • by Millennium (2451)

          Both, I'd guess. The claimed reasoning will be to force people to make the connection between the living animal and the meat being eaten.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      then no way in hell they'd implement a picture.

      anyhow, this isn't really news is it? except that they're bothering with this in china(to have a meat supply track where the meat isn't binned to a single big bin at some point in the process).

      Consider this country had the Milk scandal and you can imagine how necessary something like this tracking can be. However... if the Beijing government really doesn't know how so many hackers can be attacking USA sites and servers and they're handling these land grabs very poorly, the grip of the Central Government could certainly be called into question (I really don't think it's as strong as many believe.) Where there's corruption there's going to be will and means to game this system - "Recognise this

  • From the summary:

    "...theoretically this technology could allow a grocer to put a picture on the store package of the pig you are eating."

    No thanks. I like to feel a personal disconnection with the animal I'm about to eat. Lobsters aren't so bad because they're like bugs, but many people keep furry animals like pigs as pets. The idea's like a local radio commercial that advertises lambskin boots and then plays a cute "Baaaaa" noise, which is quizzical and bizzarre.

    Everytime that commercial comes on at work I say, "That is the sound of the lamb being slaughtered to make those boots."

    • by dbc (135354)

      Hi there, city boy. What a hoot you folks are, hypocrites one and all. You should be a vegan.

      I remember sitting around the family dinner table, commenting on the flavor and tenderness of particular steaks. "Pretty good. Very tender. But remember Wilfred? He was amazingly tender and flavorful.' To which someone might reply: "Wilfred was good, buy I preferred Roscoe."

      Our citified cousins tended not to join the conversation...

      If you aren't willing to kill it, don't eat it. I hear Mark Zuckerburg has be

      • I remember sitting around the family dinner table, commenting on the flavor and tenderness of particular steaks. "Pretty good. Very tender. But remember Wilfred? He was amazingly tender and flavorful.' To which someone might reply: "Wilfred was good, buy I preferred Roscoe."

        Our citified cousins tended not to join the conversation...

        Could the reason for that be that Wilfred and Roscoe were your cousins?

  • Meet the meat (Score:4, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby AT comcast DOT net> on Monday December 19, 2011 @01:30PM (#38425078)

    Does Douglas Adam's estate get to sue if we get an introduction of our pork by our pork?

  • The goal is to control disease outbreaks, but theoretically this technology could allow a grocer to put a picture on the store package of the pig you are eating.

    As if a grocer would actually do this (unless forced by a pack of wild PETA activists).

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Monday December 19, 2011 @01:30PM (#38425092) Journal

    theoretically this technology could allow a grocer to put a picture on the store package of the pig you are eating

    Considering how disconnected the average person is from where their food comes from, I think putting a face on the meat you're buying would turn many people's stomachs -- and maybe turn them off eating meat. Oh well, more bacon for the rest of us!

  • Ugh.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    The goal is to control disease outbreaks, but theoretically this technology could allow a grocer to put a picture on the store package of the pig you are eating.

    Sometimes, the idea of becoming a vegan is really appealing.....

  • by dethndrek (870145) on Monday December 19, 2011 @01:34PM (#38425122)
    "He liked spiders, and was a pretty stupendous pig."
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday December 19, 2011 @01:36PM (#38425160) Journal
    For discrete cuts of meat, the labeling should be simple enough; but some of the more, er, 'waste minimizing' meat products are going to get seriously complex.

    The composition of a given hamburger would probably have to be given as a joint probability density function across a set of hundreds or thousands of animals or something similarly messy. That would give label-readers something to ponder...
    • by Joehonkie (665142) on Monday December 19, 2011 @01:40PM (#38425210) Homepage
      Your hot dog was composed of the pigs, earthworms, and insects pictured below:
    • by blueg3 (192743)

      Something like chicken nuggets would be a challenge, but there's nothing stopping processors from making single-animal ground meat and sausage.

      • Surely they could just tap one of the statistics professors at hamburger university. I imagine that describing the origin of a given nugget in the n-dimensional probability space encompassing all the possible distributions of the various animals on the line at production time would be rather like describing the position of an electron in space: You couldn't actually say where an individual nugget falls; but with knowledge of the production process and the input animals you could model the statistical distri
      • by khr (708262)

        Something like chicken nuggets would be a challenge, but there's nothing stopping processors from making single-animal ground meat and sausage.

        Then they can probably charge more, sort of like single barrel whisky and things like that...

      • by Pope (17780)

        Sorta OT, but there was an interesting article recently on the price of hogs and when McDonalds brings back the McRib, the price has to be within a certain range or they won't do it: http://www.theawl.com/2011/11/a-conspiracy-of-hogs-the-mcrib-as-arbitrage [theawl.com]

    • The FDA is trying to do something similar here in the U.S. Cost / Benefit and regulating small farmers is the problem.
      They want the data for public health reasons. When there is an outbreak to disease (tuberculosis, salmonella) or contaminated meat the FDA would like to track the outbreak to the source. So, while it is kind of pointless to know where your hamburger came from (the packages in the local supermarket come from 1 or 2), not so much for the public health people.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      only low grade hamburger. I usually pick out a roast or set of large steaks and ask the butcher to grind it for me. Tastes far better than the prepackaged garbage "ground beef" or "hamburger"

      If you go to a real butcher, you end up with better meat for the same price.

      • by Nethead (1563)

        This: http://home.hamelin.us/IMG253.jpg [hamelin.us]

        Business Costco (the one in Lynnwood, WA) and take home to cut into strips (and a nice little chuck steak for Joe), divide into 1.5lb baggies and freeze. When we want some good burger we just pull a baggie and run it through the KitchenAid grinder (works better frozen.)

        Top grade low-fat burger for the cost of 80/20 on sale. And we know what is in it.

        As you know, you can't go back to the mystery pack after you've tasted this.

        • by swb (14022)

          I haven't done that for hamburger as we don't eat enough of it, but I do buy the whole prime NY strips and slice them myself and then vacuum seal into bags of two.

          Its amazing how much cheaper it is, like $6/lb cheaper for Costco prime than luxury grocery store choice.

    • "May also contain one of the following: Wilbur Babe Bessy Betsy Gerty ..."
    • by griffjon (14945)

      I can't even imagine the complexity of graphing the content of a mystery-meat style hotdog: multiple cuts, animals, processing plants, species, segments of time.... perhaps forcing this to be labeled would shift our eating habits back towards higher-quality, more expensive cuts of meat, lowering our overall consumption and reducing the environmental impact of heavy meat consumption.

      It might even make super market meat taste decent over time!

      Therefore, I'm not at all worried about this getting implemented in

  • "...you know that these three pieces of pork chop came from pig number 123,' said Paul Chang, who leads global strategy for emerging technologies at IBM. The goal is to control disease outbreaks, but theoretically this technology could allow a grocer to put a picture on the store package of the pig you are eating..."

    Would anyone be surprised if IBM has a patent on this? Remember, I am talking about the USPTO here. We've seen that in the past.

  • It would be a waste of technology if it didn't make bacon taste even better.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday December 19, 2011 @01:46PM (#38425304) Journal
    They did the same thing in 1930's/40's Germany. I guess the more that things change, the more that they stay the same.
    • Gets old... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Junta (36770) on Monday December 19, 2011 @02:05PM (#38425516)

      Everyone know that the part of IBM operating in Germany worked with the government of the time helping with some of the most heinous institutionalized in human history. However, there is a good chance you can't find a single person currently in IBM's employ who was even *born* when that was happening. Implying that IBM continues to be a company worthy of scorn even now due to this is not that far off from calling Germany a despicable country. We must never forget and specific examples of how organizations were complicit in the whole thing helps to keep perspective, but in any way implying the IBM of *today* has any blame for what was done by people who have no invlovlement in IBM at all anymore is not productive.

      • As somebody that HAS worked for IBM Watson labs, I have no issue with pointing out how bad they are. They were gutted badly and continue down that path.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday December 19, 2011 @01:48PM (#38425328) Homepage

    Americans don't want to see the face of the pig they are eating, In fact most don't want to hear how you kill and process and animal. Putting a photo of the pig on the package will guarantee a drop in sales.

  • Time to meet the meat!
  • Track it back to its facebook page and post a message - "You were delicious"
  • Great! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    We've been doing this in Europe for quite a few years now...

  • Obligatory Styx quote: You know it's you Babe!

    'Cause you know it's you babe
    Whenever I get weary
    And I've had enough
    Feel like giving up
    You know it's you Babe
    Givin' me the courage
    And the strength I need
    Please believe that it's true
    Babe, I love you!
    Squeal...

  • "This little piggy went to market"

  • I think we should do more to honor the creatures we eat. There is no greater sacrifice than for a creature to give its life to sustain the life of another. Instead of the nihilism vegetarians would desire for our fellow creatures, I say we give these creatures life, a good life, then celebrate that life as we dine on their flesh. So yes, give us a picture and bio of our creatures.
    • by rikkards (98006)

      Good luck with that, easier to get Americans to stop shopping at Walmart and spend couple hundred on a DVD player built in the US than something for $50 built in China

  • Many years ago there was a similar article about Ben & Jerry's ice cream doing the same kind of ingredient-to-finished-product tracking. It described how say, complaints in Cherry Garcia ice cream can be traced by batch # to the source of the cherries, cream, etc to help pinpoint the problem in quality. For a long time people had been wanting things like this for food safety. Past steps to get the ball rolling in the livestock industry are stalled on practical matters such as tagging things like yes.
  • This sounds very similar to the cattle passport system that was setup in the UK after the BSE outbreak, if taken a stage further. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Cattle_Movement_Service/ [wikipedia.org]

  • "... theoretically this technology could allow a grocer to put a picture on the store package of the pig you are eating."

    Yeah, that would sell so many more packages. Reminds me of the friends who decided to raise their own Thanksgiving Turkey. (Who did not get eaten at Thanksgiving, and is now spending its retirement years in the country, at the friends' expense.)

  • I believe chefs in Japan can select a cow on the web with details of its history etc. It is then killed, butchered and the meat is shipped to them direct. The beef is specifically bred for Japanese tastes, marbled with fat etc.
  • Isn't this just plain old lot tracking?
  • If the package says "Pork"? With with the quote marks, I mean...
    • by dbc (135354)

      You should be more worried if the package says "food". Really. There are what are called "standards of identity" for various foods, and the labeling rules are very strict (USA-centric comment, obviously). (My wife used to work in the package foods industry, and had frequent conversations with company attorneys about getting package labels approved.) A couple of examples:

      "pasteurized cheese food product" -- Well, it is a product. It isn't cheese at all, it is "cheese food product". It isn't clear to m

  • by SEWilco (27983)
    Dibs on pig 1024.
  • We are a small family farm - we raise our pigs outdoors without locking them up. We feed them grain, but also hay, whey from a nearby dairy, and windfall apples from a local orchard. My customers know exactly where their meat comes from, I get more for my product than most farmers do, and they get a savings by buying a far superior product directly from me without having to pay for all the transportation and advertising costs in the supermarket. It's awesome. Seriously - go find a farmer who will let yo
  • 'you know that these three pieces of pork chop came from pig number 123.' Oh great, they tell you how it ends, in the summary already. Where's the fun in that? :(
  • by AdamJS (2466928)

    This kills the crab/pig.

  • Keep buying parts, match them on part number and recover the full "frame".

  • by OldHawk777 (19923) * <adelovantNO@SPAMverizon.net> on Monday December 19, 2011 @06:08PM (#38428038) Journal

    Let me know when they start tracking the pork chop from plate to the city sewage treatment plant.

This file will self-destruct in five minutes.

Working...