The Sara Lee Corporation has sent a letter to its pork suppliers notifying them of the company’s intent to begin requiring a premises identification (ID) tag in all sows delivered to its Newbern, TN, processing facility effective January 1, 2015.

Sara Lee is the first processor to step up and officially require the tags, which identify animals to the premises of origin in order to facilitate movement tracking if necessary for animal health reasons.

Noting potential employee safety issues associated with trying to tag adult animals, the company is giving suppliers nearly three years to comply, thus allowing them to tag breeding animals at a younger age.

This action supports the recommendations of the Swine ID Implementation Task Force as part of the industry’s adoption of the Swine ID Plan designed to enhance animal identification and traceability in the pork industry.

Ultimately, these ear tags will replace the back tag currently used for surveillance identification. It is estimated that fewer than 20% of the back tags are actually retained all the way to the processing facility. This lack of retention increases the challenge associated with identifying the premises of origin of animals at processing.

It is hoped other processors will follow Sara Lee’s lead and institute similar requirements for identification.