Industry experts have welcomed a DNA registration scheme to boost traceability of Aberdeen Angus cattle and beef.

The Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society this week announced the compulsory DNA registration system for pedigree Aberdeen Angus calves - developed with IdentiGEN - saying the initiative would provide 100% traceability for pedigree animals.

Retailers can currently carry out a DNA test on animals at slaughter that uses a generic breed fingerprint to determine if the animal was sired by an Aberdeen Angus bull. Under the new system, a sample will be taken from every pedigree calf when it is registered with the Cattle Society. This can be used to create a DNA profile to establish the full parentage.

The move was welcomed by Waitrose, which has a large share of the Aberdeen Angus market, while NFU beef group chairman Andy Foot said measures to give consumers confidence that what was said on pack was verifiable could only be good.

Aberdeen Angus calves were currently registered using a paper-based system that relied on producers providing information on the calf’s parentage, a “robust but not infallible” system, said Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society chief executive Ron McHattie.

McHattie admitted beef “occasionally” entered the supply chain that was not genuine Aberdeen Angus, adding Trading Standards was stepping up its activity to pursue inaccurate breed claims.

The test would protect the integrity of the Aberdeen Angus brand at retail, said McHattie.