Saturday, December 26, 2015

Chicken Traceability

Traceability for our food is terrible to non-existant.  There is better traceability for auto parts than food.  Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada ("SFPFC") leads the way to a new world standard for poultry traceability.  We challenge all other food suppliers to duplicate our solution and follow us, if they dare.

Figure 1:   Label on the chicken sold Farm Gate from my farm.
Click on the image for a full size version.  This label provides consumers full
disclosure on their chicken, from hatching to consumer's fork.  The Internet
link (in this case ) and
the scannable QR Code both give the URL containing all the farmer's info
on these chickens.  Scan the QR code with your Smart Phone, or click
on the link and see how it works; instant disclosure at your fingertips.
If you have a QR code on a food label like that shown in Figure 1 for my farm, you can:
  • Scan the QR code using the camera on your Smart phone using a free App on your phone (eg. a Barcode Scanner from GooglePlay or equivalent), or

  • Use WebQR (using your desktop or laptop webcam); or

  • ZXing (crawls a web page looking for an on-line QR code)
Farmers can also hand out hard copies of the document.  However consumers get to the traceability & disclosure document, they can now get full disclosure on the chicken they are thinking of buying.  If done by the Chicken Mafia, that freedom to choose well can be done right at the grocery store meat counter.

Eventually, consumer advocacy groups may pour over the detailed disclosure documents and rank chicken suppliers (eg. Green, Yellow, Red), or the Top Ten for a region, Province, or Canada overall.  This can help consumers quickly decide if they should buy, or keep walking along the grocery store aisle.

Too Much Information?

Some consumers don't want to know the squishy details of what happens to chickens as they grow, and especially when they go to slaughter.  For their sensitivities, too much info makes the meat impossible to eat.  For them, the funny QR code on the label can be safely ignored and put out of mind.  All they have to do is follow the herd (ie. the rest of their family and neighbours) who have done the detailed research and discovered the best chicken to buy.  The sensibilities of the sensitive are protected.

Farmer's Overhead & Paperwork

 Will this proposed system add unfair burdens to small farmers.  I've done it, and believe it is easily managed by all.  The steps are as follows:

Step #
Step Description
Expenses, $
Total, $
Become a member of SFPFC, and obtain a free copy of SFPFC's disclosure & traceability form, and the MS Publisher meat label template.
Fill in the form &/or customize the form for your farm
Upload the disclosure document to your farm’s website.  If you don’t have your own website, obtain a free account (or equivalent) and upload completed disclosure form.  Get the link to your document to share with the world.
Use http://goog.le to create short URL, then a QR code image to that shortened URL.  Copy the QR code image to your computer.
Place the QR code on the label you will apply to your chickens for sale.  Paste the original URL link into the label.  Print enough labels to apply to all your chickens.

The above costs and steps are in addition to the current chicken labeling system of today.  Assuming $10/hr labor rate, if a farmer is producing 300 chickens per year as a Small Flocker, assuming 2.2 kg birds, this traceability system adds $0.047 per kg to the cost of your chicken.  If you are an Artisanal Chicken farmer under CFO's new program, this disclosure form adds $0.0047 per kg. to your costs. If a chicken factory farmer is producing 200,000 birds per year, the farm gate price must rise by $0.00007 per kg.

Once a farmer has done this for their first flock, it becomes much faster & easier for all subsequent flocks to copy & paste the info.

While I am all for reducing overhead as much as possible, to me, this seems to be a reasonable and affordable cost, with huge benefits for consumers.

Canada's Chicken Mafia

Due to a marketing opportunity, CFC and CFO have adopted a "Canadian grown chicken" trademark, but refuse to provide any additional information.  By carefully reading the package, you can find where the chicken was slaughtered, but that the end of the info consumers are permitted to know.  Big national brands market the chicken, but hide which farms were contracted to grow that chicken.  They pretend that all farms, all farmers, and all chicken are identical; a fungible commodity like salt, sugar, and wheat.

Of course, the fossilized multi-millionaire chicken factory owners currently enjoy their secrecy and information vacuum, and don't want educated consumers.  They buy media time to spew their marketing propaganda.  Generalities and platitudes work well when consumers are sleeping and unduly trust their food suppliers.  That is why they have done nothing ever since I originally proposed improved chicken traceability way back in April 2013 (see Blog Posting Trace Your Chicken ).

While propaganda as summarized by Edward Bernays in 1928 was a powerful tool used by the Nazi's Minister of Propaganda Goebbels, and for other evil purposes, it isn't all powerful.  When given a voice, the truth can expose and destroy any propaganda.  I doubt that the Chicken Mafia is more powerful and devious than the Nazis regime.

False Documents

Just because a document happens to state something, it doesn't make it so.  Fraudsters well understand the power of false documents.  However any document is better for consumers than an information vacuum.  Once a document exists, that document can be checked for ambiguities, comprehensiveness, supporting and collaborating evidence from trusted sources, and other evidence or verification.  If a document is found to be silent, ambiguous, or lack comprehensiveness, consumers can complain or refuse to buy.  The complaints and lost sales can continue increasing until the supplier responds by improving the traceability and disclosure document.  Once started, the document can be improved, and then improved some more as customers compare between their current supplier and a better supplier.

If a supplier dares to issue a false or misleading document, the document (and its issuer) will eventually be found out.  At that point, we have a criminal and/or civil offense that can be prosecuted, initiated by a complaint by a government official, a competitor of the fraudster, or a consumer.  A documented traceability and disclosure system can be self policing.

The current vacuum of information can never self police.

Small Flockers Lead The Way

I now have about 400 lbs of chicken, duck, and goose meat for sale to interested persons in my small Northern Ontario community using this traceability system.  With time, I hope other chicken farmers come join me.  If you are a member of SFPFC, you can get a free copy of the form to customize it to your farm.  SFPFC membership has its privileges and advantages!

I believe this proposed traceability is in the best interest of consumers, and is therefore in the long term best interest of chicken producers.

How long will the CFO chicken fossils resist and fight against this trend?


  1. I am very aware of how the Ontario chicken farms work. How do you propose to supply enough chicken to supply the markets? I would rather have CFO in charge then the corporate world. That is what will happen if CFO gets dissolved
    How will you control avian influenza when migratory birds are spreading it to all these outside flocks?
    I wish we could all live in your northern idealistic world.

    1. Thank-you for taking the time to leave a comment, John.

      All of us would be very interested in learning and discussing the source and conclusions of your chicken experiences.

      This Blog is full of suggestions on how SFPFC believes the Canadian public would be better served by restoring some of the rights and freedoms that were stolen from Small Flock poultry farmers. For example, we could have more than 430,000 additional jobs in Ontario if Small Flockers were allowed just 10% market share, while the quota boys had 90% market share for themselves (see ).

      We also proposed that Canada's chicken industry could be 5 times bigger than today if we had our fair share of the OECD chicken export market. Unfortunately, Canada is stunted by the quota systems' inability (or disinterest) in exporting. Today, Canada has about 4% of the OECD chicken export market. (see ).

      About 85% of the avian flu outbreaks occur in CAFO chicken factory farms, in spite of them being a small percentage of the total number of flocks (see ). This isn't wild ducks, it's more likely the CAFO chicken factories shooting each other in the foot; self inflicted wounds.

      You are welcome to do a posting here on your full idea and facts.

      If you're interested, if you're brave enough, please let me know. I'll post it exactly as you provide it to me.

      Give me your best shot.

      Glenn Black, President
      Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada


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