'Don't link factory spec with QA' warn farm leaders
Factory specs of animals should not be linked to the Bord Bia Quality Assurance scheme, farm leaders have warned. Concerns emerged after the issue of heavier carcasses was flagged in a discussion document for the technical group on the revised QA scheme.
The quality standards for beef and lamb are being revised as farmers have raised issues around aspects of the assurance scheme in recent months.
It is understood a discussion document on producer standards that was circulated to a technical group that includes farm bodies, Bord Bia officials and meat industry representatives, points out that the majority of EU retail markets for beef have a preference for carcasses between 300-380kg.
It points out that producers should ensure they have a sales outlet for heavier carcasses if producing cattle above this weight. This follows a recent move by meat factories to impose weight limits on carcasses after the moratorium on heavier cattle came to an end.
Patrick Kent of the ICSA, which does not have a position on the technical committee, has queried what weight has to do with the quality of the animals under the scheme.
"It does not appear in the producer standards book," he said, adding factories have been trying to rule out larger animals as supermarkets want cheaper and smaller steaks. "To put it in the document would give credence to the notion that a bigger steak is not quality."
However, it is understood that the contentious weights issue is unlikely to be contained in the final document.
After a meeting with Bord Bia, the ICSA said it was alarmed at suggestions that old cows, aged bulls and older rams may not be accepted as quality assured even if from a fully quality assured farm.