Asda was forced into speedily pulling a line of Brazilian beef from its shelves this week when it was caught out by the NFU.

The supermarket said that a team of technical specialists was flying out to Brazil this weekend &"to ensure that every supplier we use is farm assured to at least EurepGap standards&".

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond and members of the NFU livestock division are &"holding crisis talks&" with Andrew Adcock, Asda&'s deputy trading director, on Monday to ask him to explain how Brazilian beef meets farm assurance standards that Asda demands of UK producers.

The NFU&'s Store Watch discovered packs of Brazilian sirloin steaks on sale at two for £5.
NFU chief livestock adviser Peter King said his members believed that the standards of animal welfare and disease control in Brazil fell well short of those in the UK. Moreover, there were grave concerns, said King, that the &"less than robust&" system of identification of Brazilian cattle threatens Europe with foot and mouth disease, which has been prevalent in the states of Parana, Goias, Mato Grosso do Sul and Sao Paulo regions. This led to an EU ban on beef from these areas. Even de-boned beef from older cattle, reckoned to be less of a risk, was banned by the Commission.

An Asda spokesman said: &"In terms of the Brazilian product the NFU has raised concerns about, we will remove it from sale. It accounts for less than one per cent of our total beef sales. When we meet the NFU we will clarify our policy of sourcing British first, and reassure them that any imported meat we sell will only come from farms that meet the necessary welfare standards.&"

He stressed: &"Asda&'s preference is always to source British beef first. The vast majority (80%) of the beef we sell is British with most of the rest coming from Ireland. Regardless of the country of origin, our policy is clear - we always try to apply a level playing field in terms of welfare specifications and traceability.&"
John Bolt