A US company has developed a farm-to-fork computer system that could assist the tracing of food poisoning outbreak sources in beef cattle.

Developed by Kansas-based VeriPrime Inc, the system labels each animal with a coded metal tag, bearing information on birth and slaughter, which is logged onto a database. This information is available to food retailers, if they need to pinpoint the source of a possible poisoning outbreak.

Fastfood giant Burger King and large meatpacker Swift & Co. are among food companies that have endorsed the system. The cost, estimated at US$0.05 per pound of meat, is expected to be passed onto retail consumers.