May 30, 2007 /PRNewswire/ — LAWRENCE, KS — IdentiGEN, a leading provider of DNA-based solutions to the agriculture and food industries, today announced the official opening of its North American laboratories and facilities in Kansas in the heart of America’s meat industry. The new, state-of-the-art labs will initially focus on DNA analysis for the global TraceBack(TM) program, IdentiGEN’s proprietary meat traceability system. The Kansas facility will also be the launching point for commercialization of DNA TraceBack in North America.
“Comprehensive meat identification programs like IdentiGEN’s DNA traceability system are important to our food exports, to our domestic food production and to help assure consumers of food quality and safety,” says Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Adrian Polansky, who will attend the official opening. “Kansas is a business-friendly state with more than $9 billion in annual agricultural sales. We also are a leader in red meat production, so we believe it was a natural choice for IdentiGEN to locate its North American laboratories here. We welcome them and wish them success in their efforts to support our cattle and hog industries.”
DNA TraceBack is the only system that assures both quality and safety of beef and pork by guaranteeing the source of meat products throughout the entire chain of production — from the animal of origin up through the producer, meat packer, food retailer, and right to the consumer’s plate. It utilizes DNA identification similar to the use of DNA for high-tech forensic investigations in humans. For TraceBack a tiny meat sample is taken from each animal at the time of slaughter and the DNA is profiled. At the retailer, a second sample is systematically taken from cuts of meat. Both sets of samples can then be compared to verify the origin of the meat and its production history. The TraceBack system is practical and cost effective, requiring few changes in current handling or processing procedures, and it has been successfully commercialized in Ireland and other countries in Europe since 2000.
“The ability of our DNA TraceBack system to identify the exact source of meat products and trace them through the entire supply chain provides important potential benefits for consumers, while it also enables processors and retailers to ensure the precise identity of the products they deliver,” says Donald R. Marvin, president and CEO of IdentiGEN in North America. “Moreover, given the science behind our system and its innate simplicity, we can achieve these results at a price point that makes TraceBack feasible and affordable.”
In Europe, consumers have already demonstrated their preference for TraceBack-guaranteed and branded beef and pork. In Ireland where IdentiGEN was started, TraceBack verifies the origin of the beef sold by leading supermarket chains including Tesco, the third largest retailer in the world and the largest in Ireland. Tesco has launched an advertising campaign featuring the DNA TraceBack logo saying it allows Tesco to “independently guarantee … the quality and safety of the Tesco Irish beef sold to customers.”
“The opening of our North American operations sets a new stage of growth for the company and opens new possibilities for the industry,” says Patrick Cunningham, Ph.D., chairman of IdentiGEN and chief science advisor to the government of Ireland. “Consumers have demonstrated a willingness to pay a premium for guaranteed quality and safety, and we are uniquely positioned to provide that assurance at an affordable price point.”
With its North American facility now fully on-line, DNA analysis from IdentiGEN’s worldwide TraceBack customers is being transitioned to the company’s state-of-the art laboratories in Lawrence, KS. This facility is also the launching point for the commercialization of the DNA TraceBack system in the United States and Canada.
IdentiGEN Ltd., with its North American subsidiary IdentiGEN, Inc., is a privately held venture-backed company, and a leading provider of DNA-based solutions to the agriculture and food industries. The company was founded as a spin-out from the Institute of Genetics, Trinity College, where the company’s core area of expertise, genetic identification, was developed and is now being deployed in a variety of ways to enhance consumer confidence in the safety and quality of food products. Through IdentiGEN’s patented DNA-based TraceBack(TM) system, retailers, meat processors, producers and local governments, for the first time, have the tools to unequivocally trace the identity of meat back to its source. IdentiGEN is also a major provider of BSE (or “mad cow disease”) and GMO (or genetically modified organism) testing services in Europe. Additional information about IdentiGEN can be found at www.identigen.com.
IdentiGEN North America, Inc.
Donald R. Marvin
President and CEO