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Stackyard News Apr 06

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    NBA urges members to report illegal retail mixing of beef

The National Beef Association has said that the mixing of beef from different countries of origin in retail chill cabinet displays is illegal – and it is urging its members to report transgressions to their local Trading Standards Office.

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For some time it has been alarmed at the number of occasions in which UK beef has been sold from the same section of the chill cabinet as imported beef and believes many consumers will have picked up packs assuming them to be British when in fact they were not.

“Last week we wrote to the major supermarkets pointing out that under Article 16 (Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council it is illegal to mislead consumers in the way packages are displayed and the setting in which they are arranged,” explained NBA chief executive, Robert Forster .

“It is important to note that EU law supercedes UK law, even in matters relating to beef labeling and retail presentation, and that the multiples are therefore obliged not to mix, or co-mingle, retail packs from different countries of origin.”

“This being the case we have today asked our members to report any mixing of packs of UK beef, be it Scottish, Welsh, English or from Northern Ireland, with Irish, Brazilian, Australian or Argentine imports to the local Trading Standards Office. Other beef farmers are invited to do the same and quote the relevant EU regulation.”

The NBA is sure there is an obvious advantage to the UK industry if its beef is sold in a different section of the chill cabinet display to imports.

“It allows consumers to be sure they are buying beef produced in the country of their choice and because UK beef is attractive to purchasers who are more likely to pay a premium it offers an opportunity for the retailer, as well as the farmer, to build up income through increased sales of a higher net margin product or from improved market prices as a result of supplying a higher value animal,” said Mr Forster.

“Unfortunately there are still occasions in some stores when beef is mixed and co-mingled and this gives beef farmers a legitimate reason to complain to Trading Standards that they, and other consumers, have been misled.”

“This is because consumers who pick up a pack from a mixed origin section of the chill cabinet, and are subsequently unhappy because they have mistakenly purchased imported beef instead of home produced, can consider themselves to have been deceived by the co-mingling arrangement,” Mr Forster added.

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National Beef Association