The Bord Bia Mark is everywhere, but what does it actually mean?
It’s funny how we’ve gotten so used to shopping with the Bord Bia Quality mark. But what does it actually mean?
These days when you’re perusing the meats aisle in your local supermarket, whether you’re picking up the sausages for a weekend fry up or hunting down the joint for the Sunday roast, it’s unthinkable that you’d place an item in your trolley that doesn’t have the Bord Bia QA Mark. A packet of rashers looks very naked without the QA mark….
In fact, we rely on the mark a great deal to allay any worries of fears we might have about how our meat is produced, yet very few of us have gone into the fine print of what exactly the mark means.
We know it stands for quality, but how is it awarded? What standards do farmers have to adhere to attain it? We spoke to Teresa Brophy of Bord Bia who explained the ins and outs of the QA Mark on your ham and bacon.
What exactly does the Quality Assured mark mean?
The Bord Bia Quality Mark means that food has been produced to the highest Bord Bia quality standards and you know where it comes from. So by looking for food with the Quality Mark when shopping, you can rest assured that it will look after you and your family.
You will find the Quality Mark on a wide range of foods including bacon, beef, chicken, duck, lamb, pork, turkey, pre-packaged meals containing meat; fruit, vegetables and eggs.
What are the conditions a producer has to fulfil in order to achieve the QA mark?
Each member undergoes a certification process which includes being independently audited against the requirements in the relevant quality standard. The cornerstones of the Bord Bia schemes include Food Safety, Animal Health and Welfare, Environmental Protection and Traceability. Once the producer or processor passes the audit they are allowed use of the Quality Mark.
The Quality Mark ensures all steps in the food chain from production to final packaging for sale to the consumer are Quality Assured. These include the farm or growing unit, the meat factory or packing centre and any secondary processing food factory (smoking, curing, cooking etc)
Do many applicants fail when applying for the QA mark?
Some applicants do not pass their inspections if their production is not in line with the set of Bord Bia requirements. They then cannot use the Quality Mark on their products and have to reapply for another inspection.
When did the QA concept first arise?
Bord Bia’s first quality assurance scheme was put in place in 1991 for mushrooms and since then a number of schemes have been developed for various red meats, poultry, fresh produce and eggs.
Who is involved in the awarding of the QA mark?
The inspections at farms and factories are conducted by independent auditors. They make a recommendation as to whether the farm or factory is compliant to the standard. Provided the latter meet the quality standards during the audit, the certification committee then makes the decision to certify or not. This is the official confirmation that the audit has been passed. The member is then eligible to apply to use the Bord Bia Quality Mark on products where appropriate.
What training or expertise are they required to have?
The auditors must have the required qualifications and experience both in terms of auditing and the specific food sector.
Are there equivalents to the QA mark in other European countries?
There are quality programmes in other European countries.
When a customer chooses a product with the QA mark what are they getting?
It gives a customer confidence that the food they are eating has been produced to the highest quality standards and is independently checked at every stage. This leaves them free to enjoy great food with their family and friends safe in the knowledge they are making the best food choices for them.
So remember to choose food with the Bord Bia Quality Mark when shopping. For delicious recipe ideas for everyday meals, check out www.bord bia.ie.