World-wide electronic traceability of livestock is a critical tool in the management of animal disease outbreaks. North America-based manufacturers of RFID animal-tracing equipment no longer have to send their equipment to Europe for testing. Certification can be done at the SAIT RFID Test Lab, newly accredited by the International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR).
Given approval by the International Standards Organization (ISO) last year, the lab is finally up and running. Two main benefits to North American manufacturers include a short turn-around time on test reports and testing that goes beyond traditional ICAR lab tests. SAIT also puts novel cattle tags through the rigors of cold-climate testing to ensure they meet the more stringent Canadian standards that account for harsh Canadian winters.
“An ICAR accreditation gives SAIT a high profile in the field of RFID research and animal tracking,” said Bob Davies, project lead and quality manager with SAIT’s Applied Research and Innovation Services department. “It also opens the door for other testing services beyond animal RFID. When you achieve an ISO accreditation, you are evaluated on two fronts; firstly, the management system which is a kind of umbrella structure that oversees all the various lab functions and, secondly, the technical methods that concern the specific tests that are undertaken. If SAIT wants to add a new test, this can be done without having to completely redevelop the quality-management system.”
There has long been a growing global demand for additional animal-recording device testing services.
“I have been hoping there would be a lab here,” said Jussi Maki-Hokkonen, ICAR services executive. “The volume of the testing has been increasing and the industry is growing in animal ID devices since 2007, when it became a World Trade Organization agreement that food has to be traced back to its origin.”
Ken Evers, chairman of ICAR’s animal identification subcommittee, said a test-lab in an educational setting presents unique opportunities.
“Canada is one of the world leaders in animal identification. It’s only right that a country such as Canada…have its own laboratory to test those devices,” Evers explained. “It’s good to see a laboratory occurring in a [post-secondary] facility. We need the younger generation to see what’s going on and to get excited and passionate about it all.”