Retailers and processors have rallied to back new farm assurance standards developed for dairy farmers selling cattle onto the Over Thirty Months beef market.
The Assured Food Standards scheme can be bolted on to existing dairy schemes, a development that has enraged the National Beef Association, which says it is not as rigorous as the existing beef scheme.
But a spokesman for meat processor ABP, which supplies British beef to retailers including Asda, Sainsbury and Somerfield, said the company was satisfied by assurances from AFS, which runs the red tractor scheme, that the revised system was equivalent to the beef assurance scheme.
He added: “We don’t want to see dairy farmers incurring any more additional cost or bureaucracy on assurance than is absolutely necessary.”
Major retailers have backed the new standard. A Tesco spokeswoman said: “All our fresh red meat will continue to carry the red tractor and we accept all the quality assurance standards set by AFS.”
Asda said it was committed to stocking farm-assured OTM British beef, and had done so in the form of fresh mince and other products since December.
Morrisons said that it was still “investigating the impact of the announcement”.
OTM beef was readmitted to the food chain in November. A large proportion of the animals slaughtered will come from the dairy herd. The initial flow of older cattle on to the market has been slow, though things are expected to pick up once the OTM compensation scheme ends on January 20.
Rachael Porter