The Beef That Supermarkets Sell Must Exactly Match The Description On The Label

17 January 2013

Confirmation from Ireland’s Food Standards Agency that a beef burger sold by a major supermarket contained 29 per cent horsemeat means that retailers and processors throughout the UK must put more effort into making sure that the products they sell exactly match everything that is written on the label.

So says the National Beef Association which is keen to ensure that consumers have full confidence in the quality and provenance of the meat products they purchase – but is worried that doubts might now surface about other claims, including country of origin, which must be highlighted on the pack.

“If a high proportion of horsemeat can find its way into a beef burger who is to say what else might happen on packing lines used by companies that process cattle from more than one country and sell a range of products containing a wide variety of cuts taken from different parts of the carcase,” explained NBA national chairman Hamish McBean.

“It is obvious that here in the UK consumers, quite rightly, have high regard for the excellence and integrity of beef produced on British farms and that British beef is their favoured purchase.”

“This being the case the National Beef Association is committed to protecting the authenticity that underpins this confidence and it will do all it can to encourage retailers and processors to do all they can to guarantee the cast iron honour of their products.”

“We therefore urge every supermarket chain, small, medium or huge, to make every effort to ensure that country of origin in particular is not compromised and to accept that if they have labelled the beef in a pack as British then only beef that is British can be in the pack.”

“Our members, and other UK beef farmers, have given them a great start because each of our cattle can be traced back to its farm of origin and the quality of their production is backed by farm assurance standards that are the toughest, and most comprehensive, in Europe.”

“It is not a surprise that consumers have responded by making beef from UK farms their first choice purchase and the last thing we want to happen is for them to feel deceived.”

“Unfortunately it has become obvious over recent weeks that some companies, especially those that also retail beef from the Republic of Ireland, have become less interested in emphasising UK origin.”

“One has removed the Red Tractor logo, which confirms high standards of British production, from its label and another describes the beef it sells is British without making it clear that it actually means British Isles – which of course includes another EU member State.”