RFID Migrates Upstream

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Dec 08, 2010 @ 10:00 AM

Could This Mean the End of Human-Injected Hormones and Antibiotics in our Food?

FishFarm raised fish used to be preferred by consumers over fish caught in the wild. The belief was that we would be ingesting less mercury, often found in ocean-living fish in the form of a toxic organic compound. Then we discovered that farm-raised fish, as well as other animals like chickens and cows, were being injected with hormones to make them bigger and antibiotics to fight infection so they could continue to bring in revenue. That knowledge led people to be very diligent about knowing where their food came from. Many people I know stopped buying farm-raised fish in favor of the potential mercury exposure.

But RFID could solve the problem of impure food and also cross some other hurdles along the way.

Researchers in Thailand have explored the benefits of using RFID to track and monitor growth to improve breeding of stock, or in this case fish. King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang embedded passive RFID tags in giant prawns, tilapia and walking catfish. These species represent a significant export for the country, so it’s no wonder they would want to protect and even try to improve the broodstock. The RFID system was designed to track a fish’s growth on a monthly basis. The system comprised 10 millimeter glass transponders and handheld readers. The tags contained a serial number that identified each fish. The growth data and breed information was kept in a database. If the data showed that the fish wasn’t growing as it should be, cross-breeding could be implemented to improve the growth of the species. Sounds far more natural than injecting them with growth hormones!

This research project, funded by the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center, also served another purpose. Since embedding RFID tags into aquatic animals was fairly unchartered territory, the researchers used the project to help determine the best location for the tags and the least disruptive way to insert them into these small animals. They also tracked any physical affects the tags could have on them.

The project was considered a success because researchers concluded that the best place to insert the tags was in the abdomen, and the tags did not affect the growth or health of the fish. The findings were also to be used to promote the use of RFID in aquatic farm management and other food tracking industries.

Let us know your thoughts.  Do you agree that using RFID to monitor growth and the resulting "natural" methods of farming healthy seafood for harvest is a healthier to using hormones?

Tags: RFID, Food Safety, Agriculture

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