Burger King Corp., Swift & Co., Consolidated Beef Producers, Mr. Goodcents Subs & Pastas, and other food-industry leaders have launched a new food-safety initiative. VeriPrime is a member-owned and directed system to address “pressing food-safety needs and consumer concerns for a safe and secure food supply.”

The plan is to start with the beef industry and then “after establishing its presence” there, it will extend services to other foods, specifically noted were pork, chicken, turkey and fish. The National Cattleman’s Beef Association has endorsed VeriPrime’s concepts and system.

Many “large and small beef producers” have enrolled, representing more than 60 percent of the U.S. fed-cattle market, according to Scott Crain, VeriPrime’s chef executive officer.

The VeriPrime alliance is working with government, the food industry, consumer and trade groups to identify and implement procedures to enhance measures to control foodborne illnesses, according to a released statement. VeriPrime is building a foundation for comprehensive animal identification and tracking, which also will support anti-bioterrorism protections and an expedited, targeted recall capability. The identification system will keep tabs on cattle herds from birth to slaughter by marking each newborn calf with a coded tag. The company plans to expand to track animals and meat imported from Canada and Mexico.

The alliance will prescribe to the National Council of Chain Restaurants, Food Marketing Institute animal-welfare standards. It will address bovine spongiform encephalopathy and other diseases, including inspecting and monitoring feed supplies and manurfacturing.

As VeriPrime member services expand, additional key issues to be investigated include non-therapeutic antibiotic use and residual levels present in food, notes Crain.