Union calls for clearer country of origin labelling on processed beef

Farmers in Scotland are calling for clearer and more detailed country of origin labelling on processed beef products to allow shoppers to make informed decisions about the meat they buy.

In a letter to the Defra Minister George Eustice, NFU Scotland argued that shoppers must have the ability to identify where the beef they are buying comes from, regardless of whether it is fresh or processed.

The group says origin labelling on processed food products where beef makes up one of the main ingredients would enable the consumer to support domestic beef production whilst enhancing transparency in the marketplace.

Scottish beef is an industry leader in quality, animal welfare and environmental delivery. However, the nation’s beef farmers are currently experiencing a three-year low in prices for prime cattle.

NFU Scotland believes labelling is an area which the UK Government could legislate on post-Brexit and has written to Defra Minister George Eustice.

NFU Scotland Livestock chairman Jimmy Ireland said: “Consumers need to be able to be confident when they are buying beef products that they are getting high quality, high welfare, environmentally considerate Scottish beef with low food miles.

Although we have strong regulations on the labelling of fresh beef products, there are significant weaknesses in the regulations surrounding processed beef which too easily allows for imported beef to be used without the consumer being aware.

“Improving the country of origin labelling on processed beef products will not only improve consumer confidence, but it will also improve the transparency within the supply chain as consumers will have confidence in where all their beef products come from.

“Clearer origin labelling should also be progressed for processed lamb, pork and chicken products so that the Scottish public can support domestic livestock production across the sectors.

“Scottish shoppers want to buy Scottish and we want to guarantee they can.”