The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has started developing a system to numerically label beef products in a bid to enable consumers to identify the birthplace of the cow and the farms where it was raised.

A pilot project will be launched in January with the link-up of a stock farm in Hokkaido with retailers in the Osaka Prefecture. It will be developed and implemented by the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations, a group that will maintain marketing channels between the Hokkaido farm and Osaka supermarkets.

Ministry officials explained that the traceability system is aimed at restoring consumer confidence in the safety of domestic beef after the September confirmation of BSE in the national herd.