All imported beef must meet the same high production standards
as the UK Product - and if it does not consumers should be able
to identify non-British beef easily so they know exactly what
they are buying.
So says the National Beef Association which is appalled at the
indifference displayed at many levels over the integrity of the
beef labelling system, the mixing of beef from different countries
in supermarket chill cabinets and failure to acknowledge that
other country's farm assurance standards fall well below our
"Britain is at last waking up to the enormous gaps in production
standards in Brazil where regular accusations over labour, environmental,
hormone implant and disease control abuses are still unanswered. "explained
NBA chief executive, Robert Forster.
"This could, quite rightly, result in the European Commission's
veterinary inspectors (FVO) imposing a ban on all Brazilian beef
entering the EU after they have completed a crucial inspection
tour this autumn."
"But despite growing concern about the Brazilian product
many supermarkets are still ignoring an EU directive which forbids
the mixing, or co-mingling, of beef from different countries
of origin it in the same section of their chill cabinets."
"And this is not only making it harder for the domestic
industry to raise the profile of its vastly superior product
but is also confusing customers who can buy imported beef by
Nor is the NBA happy with the beef labelling system which is
designed to help consumers pick out what they are looking for
but is not working as well as it should because of weaknesses
in the inspection system.
"One of the problems is that government inspectors, the
producer's police force, are only allowed to visit packing plants
once a year - and then they have to warn the operators of their
time of arrival," said Mr Forster.
"Even so over the last 14 months the inspectors have identified
70 centres, out of 528 inspected, with no traceability system
in place, there were 39 occasions in which there were no labels
on incoming beef and 48 with no labels on outgoing product."
"This is an entirely unsatisfactory situation but if inspections
were unannounced and could be conducted on a risk basis the industry
could be more certain that imported beef is not being passed
off as home produced and regular accusations that more beef is
labelled British then is produced in Britain could be more accurately
answered." And the NBA would like retail buyers and consumers
to be more aware about the differences between UK and Republic
of Ireland farm assurance standards too.
"British supermarkets insist that all the home produced
beef they use comes from ABM assured cattle but some are not
as fussy when they accept Irish beef." said Mr Forster.
"Last year 230,000 tonnes of beef, the equivalent of 40
per cent of the Republic of Ireland's production was imported
into the UK but much less than 40 per cent of Irish cattle are
produced on farm assured holdings."
"The managers of Ireland's Beef Quality Assurance Scheme
have targeted 14,000 farms but so far have only swept up 5,000
and on top of that Irish farms can be certificated with a 60
percent inspection score compared with 100 per cent for ABM in
"In current circumstances a significant proportion of Republic
of Ireland beef imported into Britain cannot possibly be farm
assured which is one more indication that even though there are
higher standards for our own beef the system does not allow the
domestic industry to take advantage of the." Mr Forster
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