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January 23, 2015

Text and check meat quality before buying


January 23, 2015

FOR the first time, information technology service has been used to enable consumers to verify the quality of meat right at the sale point by just sending a text message on the newly-launched short code ‘9211’ jointly introduced by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Punjab Livestock and Dairy Development Department.
On the first day of its test launching, overwhelming response of general public was witnessed as the department received more than 1,000 meat quality verification SMS and over 100 complaints on toll-free number.
The short code service of ‘9211’ is the first-ever SMS service for the meat consumers which would help them to prevent the purchase of dead animal, forbidden, adulterated, unhygienic, and water-mixed meat.
In the first phase, the service has been launched in the provincial metropolis and in the second phase, it would be extended to other districts of Punjab.
A comprehensive database has been set up for this ‘9211’ service; it starts working from the beginning of slaughterhouse. A computerised barcode would be pasted on every animal which comes to slaughterhouse of Shahpur Kanjraan.
A veterinary doctor first examines the animal and sends its detail with its barcode to 9211 USSD portal, after its health assurance, the animal would be sent to automatic slaughter machine.
When the animal is again handed over to the butcher after slaughter, barcode would be placed on it and it would be transported to city. During transportation, the food inspection officers could check it by sending its barcode to 9211. On getting a satisfactory answer from 9211 they would allow its entry in the city.
This barcode will only be valid for 12 hours and after its expiry the barcode will not be used again on any other animal.
Every animal would have a different unique barcode from the total 178 million different combinations. Consumers can check the meat quality in just five seconds by sending the meat

barcode to 9211 short code. By sending the barcode on 9211, the sender receives a message, which will read, ‘Beef: Best to buy before evening,’ ‘Mutton: Best to buy before evening,’ and ‘Warning: Be cautious’.
It is pertinent to mention here that it is only the first module of 9211 short code service while the department has also been working on other 14 modules to computerise all the data related to animal growth, types, vaccination, diseases, etc.
A special motorcycle squad of 9211 will also be established and town-wise squads will be deputed. Besides, the launch of 9211 a toll-free number 080009211 has also been set up for the registration of complaints against the butchers. A central complaint centre has been set up in the Livestock Department and immediate response would be ensured as all the officials concerned will also receive the message alerts.
Talking to The News, Secretary Livestock and Dairy Development Naseem Sadiq said he had been trying his best in utilising the virtual governance and information technology for the better health and safety of the people. He said it was the first practical move to end sale of unhygienic, adulterated, forbidden and dead animal meat and many other steps would be taken in future.

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