Skip

Sure, let's meet the meat
December 19, 2011 11:51 AM   Subscribe

IBM is currently putting together database and barcode tracking to allow farmers and grocers in China to track your porkchop, from the pig to the plate. Using supply chain tracking (similar to what is done already in other industries), the goal is to limit and hopefully prevent disease outbreaks by tracking the health of the animal, including which other animals it has come into contact with. So the next time you sit down for some nice ham, you might be able to scan the barcode (or RFID tag) to see whom else on your block shares your own porcine six degrees of separation.

And any such article would not be complete without a visit from Peter Davidson in a pig suit from HHGTTG.
posted by Old'n'Busted (21 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
....That's actually Peter Davison (no "d"), and it's a cow suit.

(adjusts imaginary pocket protector)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:52 AM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I, for one, would like to know that all the bacon in the package that I bought came from the same swine. Can they do that?
posted by jsavimbi at 12:11 PM on December 19, 2011


Soundtrack: Matthew Herbert's One Pig
posted by filthy light thief at 12:11 PM on December 19, 2011


It's the mark on the beast, people.
posted by gauche at 12:14 PM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've always been fascinated by big huge logistics systems (hey fellow e-commerce nerds!) so seeing this type of rather complex system being introduced in China is promising news. There are all sorts of possibilities when it comes to tracking health and disease related data, and combining this with information visualization ("Download PorkChopHop for iPhone and Android!") could make a substantial contribution to consumer advocacy/empowerment. I'm pretty sure these investments are very costly for Chinese companies but hopefully the benefit consumers, producers and China's somewhat tarnished reputation for quality/safety.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:16 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Knife... fork... barcode reader... Damn, the gravy washed the barcode off my ham. I'll never know its pedigree.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 12:19 PM on December 19, 2011


If this is anything like tracking a FedUps package, the website will just say "Pig has ARRIVED at Wuhan Meat Product Company" until a day or two after I've finished digesting it.
posted by dubold at 12:20 PM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's going to really creep me out when I scan a barcode over my pork chop and it comes back with the message:

SOME PIG



Seriously, though, younger me would have knee-jerked "how about they just spend their energy keeping the pigs that end up being eaten away from unhealthy ones?"; older me knows better and thinks this is a great idea.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:28 PM on December 19, 2011


I, for one, would like to know that all the bacon in the package that I bought came from the same swine. Can they do that?

I'd settle for knowing the bacon came from swine closer to my market than 8000 miles.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:31 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Murray's Chicken has a chicken tracker, accessible via web. (Only tracks whole chickens, not parts)

BTW, has anyone detected an increase in stinky pork recently? Not sure if it's boar taint or what, but I've experienced it recently at restaurants and at home, even in sausage. I wonder if this system could assign a "taint probability" to pork.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:33 PM on December 19, 2011


six degrees of kevin's bacon
posted by Mach5 at 12:35 PM on December 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


I thought this was already done in the EU, at least for larger livestock. I don't understand what is particularly new, except the technology, but even that I am unsure of.
posted by Jehan at 12:39 PM on December 19, 2011


I, for one, would like to know that all the bacon in the package that I bought came from the same swine

I'm trying to imagine the wonderful Rube Goldberg bacon-shuffling device that you picture in your head when you suspect that you're getting rashers from multiple pigs. I think it would cost the bacon companies a lot more money to give you multiple-pig-sourced bacon than not.
posted by yoink at 12:48 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I, for one, would like to know that all the bacon in the package that I bought came from the same swine

Transparent packaging does that for you: the fact that the pattern of lean and fat is continuous through the slices makes it pretty obvious. On the other hand, if you're eating industrially farmed pork you're worrying about the wrong problem.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:56 PM on December 19, 2011


Rube Goldberg bacon-shuffling device

That's the name of my new ska band.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:00 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Along these lines, can someone explain why the USPS barcodes everything, and purports to have tracking, but then doesn't actually do any publicly visible scans?
posted by smackfu at 1:24 PM on December 19, 2011


Soundtrack: Contagion - track 19, Bat & Pig...
posted by progosk at 1:53 PM on December 19, 2011


Along these lines, can someone explain why the USPS barcodes everything, and purports to have tracking, but then doesn't actually do any publicly visible scans?

Internal system tracking, routing and sorting.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:55 PM on December 19, 2011


I think it would cost the bacon companies a lot more money to give you multiple-pig-sourced bacon than not.

OTOH, it'd be nice to have a version for ground beef, to see how many hundreds of cows are going into your burger.
posted by Brak at 2:21 PM on December 19, 2011


"Pig 05049" is so much more than pork chops:

"Christien Meindertsma has spent three years researching all the products made from a single pig. Amongst some of the more unexpected results were: Ammunition, medicine, photo paper, heart valves, brakes, chewing gum, porcelain, cosmetics, cigarettes, conditioner and even bio diesel.

"Meindertsma makes the subject more approachable by reducing everything to the scale of one animal. After it's death, Pig number 05049 was shipped in parts throughout the world. Some products remain close to their original form and function while others diverge dramatically. In an almost surgical way a pig is dissected in the pages of the book - resulting in a startling photo book where all the products are shown at their true scale (1:1)."
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:41 PM on December 19, 2011


This has already been done in Japan, since 2003 after the Mad Cow scare.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:35 PM on December 19, 2011


« Older Who voted for the tire from Rubber?   |   The Rhythm Wreckers with Whitey McPherson Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post