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Beef 'blur' blasted

FOOD RETAILERS are deliberately blurring the distinction between UK-produced beef and meat from the Republic of Ireland, lumping it together as 'British' – originating from the British isles.

Calling on consumers to demand 'uncompromising and 100% accurate' country of origin information on their meat, the National Beef Association expressed dismay at the dilution of UK meats' hard-won quality reputation.

"No one works harder than British farmers to make sure that the beef they produce meets the highest possible standards and there is anger in our ranks that these strenuous efforts have been undermined by careless, possibly even criminal, action within the Irish processing sector," said NBA chairman, Hamish McBean.

"Here in the UK we have in CTS and APHIS the most robust cattle tracing systems in Europe. These enable processors and retailers to check back and be completely confident that the cattle they have purchased were born and reared within UK borders.

"On top of this our cattle, and their beef, is backed by the toughest of farm assurance demands," said Mr McBean.

"So imagine our dismay when we learn not just that horsemeat has been used to contaminate beef burgers produced in the ROI, but that a determined effort is also being made to blur the origin of UK cattle and compromise the bran."

The NBA said that UK consumers should insist that retailers:

- Display the Red Tractor prominently on labelling;

- Make sure that the country of origin on the pack is clearly written and not abbreviated;

- Make sure that packs of beef from the ROI and the UK are not mixed on the same supermarket shelf;

- Tell retailers that beef factories should not be processing cattle from the Republic of Ireland and the UK on the same premises.

"Our concern about the Red Tractor logo follows an announcement by Sainsbury's, which also sells beef from the ROI, that the Red Tractor is to be taken off its labels," explained Mr McBean.

"And we are aware that McDonalds, which also uses beef from the ROI, has described its beef as British even though it is produced in two, quite separate, EU member states."

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