National Beef Association
For everyone with an interest in the British beef industry

Press Release - Consumers can back farmers in making case for 100 per cent accurate beef product labelling

23rd January 2013

Region: National

The United Kingdom’s beef farmers are calling on consumers to back their quest to persuade retailers not to skimp on product information, especially on country of origin, put on retail packs.

The move follows last week’s revelation that 29.1 per cent of the content of a beef burger, manufactured by a subsidiary of the Republic of Ireland’s (ROI) biggest beef processor, was horsemeat.

“No one works harder than British farmers to make sure that the beef they produce meets the highest possible standards and there is anger in our ranks that these strenuous efforts have been undermined by careless, possibly even criminal, action within the Irish processing sector,” explained the National Beef Association’s chairman, Hamish McBean.

“Here in the UK we have in CTS and APHIS the most robust, computer based, cattle tracing systems in Europe. These enable processors and retailers to check back and be completely confident that the cattle they have purchased were born and reared within UK borders.”

“On top of this our cattle, and their beef, is backed by the toughest of farm assurance demands which cover, among many other things, their welfare, their feeding, and their veterinary treatment. There can be no doubt that the UK’s assurance schemes, which are supported by the well known Red Tractor logo, are recognised throughout the EU as top ranking proof of product provenance and integrity.”
“So imagine our dismay when we learn not just that horsemeat has been used to contaminate beef burgers produced in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) but that a determined effort is also being made attempt to blur the origin of UK cattle and compromise the branding of British beef.”

The NBA is certain that consumers across the UK can help to ensure that the beef they buy continues to be of the highest calibre by insisting that retailers promise to take the following steps to secure the robustness of the British beef label.

#  Make sure that the Red Tractor, which guarantees UK origin, provenance, and integrity, is prominently positioned on the label.

#  Make sure that the country of origin on the pack is clearly written and not abbreviated within the small print into so that UK is difficult to find and IRL, which means Republic of Ireland, is hard to find and may not be properly understood.

#  Make sure that retail beef packs containing beef from either the ROI or the UK are not mixed, or co-mingled, on the same supermarket shelf. Unfortunately this is becoming more common because some, but thankfully not all, retailers want to make British beef and Irish beef appear indistinguishable.

#  Join with the NBA in persuading retailers that beef factories should not be processing cattle from the Republic of Ireland and the UK on the same premises.

# Persuade retailers that all beef, including beef in burgers, taken from cattle produced in either the ROI and the UK cannot be described as British because that is misleading.
 “Our concern about the Red Tractor logo and farm assurance follows an announcement by Sainsbury’s, which also sells beef from the ROI, that the Red Tractor is to be taken off its labels,” said Mr McBean.

“And we are aware that McDonalds, which also uses beef from the Republic of Ireland has described its beef as British even though it is produced in two, quite separate, EU member states.”

“Consumers, who have in the recent past shown themselves to be strong supporters of high provenance British beef, need to be aware of this – and our hope is that they will be backing our efforts to make sure that all beef labelling is uncompromising and 100 per cent accurate,” he added.”

For more information contact:
Hamish McBean, NBA national chairman.  Tel 01309 651206