DISAPPROVAL OF BEEF LABELLINGWednesday, 28th Apr 2010
The Act requires sellers to name the EU Member State and the plant that the beef was slaughtered and processed in. That is the compulsory part and butchers must keep a record of their beef intake for traceability reasons.
Voluntary claims would be geographical descriptions from Scotland, Aberdeenshire, Deeside, down to farm name. Other claims such as length of maturation, breed, grass fed etc etc would all require approval. The cost of approval through SFQC is £295 per year - that can be for a number of claims and includes an annual inspection.
Butchers and Farm Shops believe that the consumer is very interested in the facts that affirm the provenance of the beef they are buying yet the EU Beef Labelling Act actually suppresses this information.
Farmers maintain records on Government documents that act as cattle passports. These include all the data surrounding cattle movements yet at the point of sale this information requires approval. A burden of regulation that is wholly unnecessary.
Whilst we recognise that the Beef Labelling Act served a purpose to restore public confidence in beef in the wake of the BSE crisis, this act is now well out of date and is contrary to newer objectives to give the consumer fuller information about the food they eat and the reduction of food miles.
To make it clearer Scotch Beef has a Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) so that can be labelled but where Scottish is used and the beef does not have approval the customer should only be told that this is UK beef.
SFMTA believe that butchers should be allowed to tell the public what they know to be the truth and have asked Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead to address this ludicrous situation.