The reputation of the Scotch brand of meat is set to receive a welcome worldwide boost from a quality assurance designation if Europe agrees to its redefinition.
Quality Meat Scotland has applied to the European Commission for a definition of Scotch-labelled beef and lamb as Protected Geographical Indication, requiring it to be produced and slaughtered to QMS's formal assurance standards.
Consequently only cattle born, raised and slaughtered in Scotland will carry the top quality guarantee.
Alasdair Muir, QMS managing director, said: "This is a positive step forward for the whole industry and the Scotch brand at a time when consumers continue to demand clear and unambiguous labelling, assurance and better eating quality."
Muir said he hoped the assurance project would ensure Scotch beef and lamb retained its cachet and integrity in both the UK and wider international markets.
The move is part of a larger strategy to strengthen the position of the Scottish meat industry by preventing cattle born outside Scotland from being used to source Scotch.
QMS is currently redoubling its efforts to work with farmers and processors that are not already quality assured.