USDA officials have moved to reserve the 840 prefix to animals born in the United States. The objective is to facilitate acceptance and implementation of animal identification. The agency has filed an interim rule outlining the measure.

This step supports efforts involved in identifying animals to comply with mandatory country-of-origin labeling, which is set to begin Sept. 30. Producers who use the 840 animal identification numbering system can use it to document their animals' origin such that it meets packers' needs for COOL. "Packers can rely upon this information for their origin claims on products at retail, in accordance with COOL," USDA officials said in issuing an interim rule on the system.

While USDA does not require the use of the 840 animal identification number for individual animal identification, producers who do adopt it can also use it in animal-health programs, marketing programs, animal-movement records, genetic programs and breed registries. In the event of a disease outbreak, the animal identification number also will allow USDA to more quickly determine the animal's origin, officials said.

Under the interim rule, any imported animal that loses its COOL identification device cannot be retagged using an 840 animal identification number. The rule also makes it unlawful to remove any official animal identification device, including those applied in other countries recognized by Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service for animals entering the United States.

This interim rule became effective upon publication in the Sept. 18 Federal Register. USDA is accepting public comments on it, which must be received on or before Nov. 17.

Source: USDA,