Irish food chiefs reacted angrily this week to calls by the National Beef Association for retailers to stop selling Irish beef because assurance standards in Ireland “fall substantially short of domestic assurance standards”.
The NBA claimed Irish beef could achieve compliance with assurance standards almost twice as easily as in the UK.
And it said that cheap imports were “misleading consumers, who expect there to be no difference in the integrity of the beef bought from retail outlets”.
Last week the NBA levelled similar criticism at Brazilian imports (The Grocer, August 27, p58). But it said it was even more concerned at the differences between UK and Irish beef assurance schemes. It claimed that an Irish farmer could become an assured beef producer with just 58% compliance under Ireland’s Beef Quality Assurance Scheme, compared with 100% in UK assurance schemes.
“We would like retailers to suspend deliveries until standards are raised to UK levels,” said NBA chairman Duff Burrell.
But the Irish food board, Bord Bia, said the NBA’s allegations were “totally inaccurate”.
UK MD Michael Murphy said: “It’s wrong to say our scheme has a lower level of compliance. It’s benchmarked against the highest standards in the world. There are 69 criteria, and if you fail just one of them, you’re out.”
The NBA denied that the attack had been timed to coincide with the imminent lifting of the ban on older British beef entering the supply chain.
Greg Meenehan