IBM Tracks Pork Chops From Pig to Plate
MEAT SUPPLIERS can track a single pig all the way from live animal to pork chop, thanks to new technol- ogy from IBM that may limit or
prevent disease outbreaks.
Pigs are identified with a barcoded ear tag.
That tag helps track various pig parts as they
pass through the slaughterhouse and on to the
processing plant, the distribution center and
finally the package in a grocer’s case.
Some trial systems are being installed
in slaughterhouses and retail stores in the
Chinese province of Shandong. China’s interest stems from an outbreak of blue-ear pig
disease from 2006 to 2007. The illness doesn’t
affect humans, but at the time, it led to a pork
shortage and sent prices soaring. There was
worry that the disease could spread to other
pigs around the globe.
IBM’s algorithms analyze data and assess
risk levels to try to quickly identify problems.
For instance, the systems could categorize
some shipments from certain suppliers as high
risk and then target inspection and testing
resources to potential problem areas.
Steven McOrist, a veterinary expert on pigs
at the University of Nottingham in England,
said that tags on pigs could help monitor the
early stages of disease but that other diagnostic
tools including blood tests “are
still needed” to clarify the actual
problem and help determine the
“Ultimately, the holy grail of this exercise
is if you can prevent an outbreak from happening,” said Paul Chang, who leads global
strategy for emerging technologies at IBM.
In a bid to save money or redirect
funds to product development,
Seagate and Western Digital are
cutting hard drive warranties — in
some cases from five years to one.
Seagate’s warranties on certain
drives were shortened as of Dec. 31,
and Western Digital followed suit
on Jan. 2. All drives shipped prior to
those dates will continue to carry
the warranty term in effect at the
First reported by The Register, a
London-based technology website,
the reductions mean some of the
vendors’ most popular PC drives
will no longer carry three- or five-year warranties.
Seagate said it is reducing warranty periods as a way to redirect
cash flow to product development.
The vendor said there is no change
in the warranties of “
mission-criti-cal” enterprise drives including the
Cheetah line. But warranty periods
for the Momentus XT hybrid drive
and nearline products including the
Constellation 2 series are being cut
from five years to three.
Warranties for some of Seagate’s
desktop and notebook drives,
including the Barracuda, are being
cut from five years
announced that it’s
cutting warranties for Caviar Blue,
Caviar Green and Scorpio Blue drives
from three years to two, but it didn’t
offer an explanation for the changes.
— LuCAS MeARIAN
GE T BREAKING NEWS AT