The potential to introduce a DNA testing programme to further underpin the existing measures in place to guarantee the authenticity of Scotch Beef PGI, is being explored by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
Speaking at this week’s NFU Scotland Livestock Roadshow in Orkney, QMS Chief Executive Alan Clarke said QMS is seeking feedback from all parts of the Scottish red meat industry on the potential benefits of introducing an official programme of DNA testing for beef.
“Quality Meat Scotland has worked hard, alongside the Scottish red meat industry, to develop the Scotch Beef PGI brand which is now recognised throughout the world as an icon of quality.
“Our world-leading, whole-of-life, whole chain quality assurance programme – from farm to processor - underpins the brand and beef producers in Scotland benefit from a price premium for Scotch Beef PGI.
“Our marketing and communications activities over many years have ensured the Scotch Beef PGI brand is one of the most recognised of all food brands in Scotland and importantly our market research shows that there is now a high level of understanding from consumers’ of what the brand stands for,” said Mr Clarke.
Accordingly, he said, it is vital the industry is able to robustly defend the integrity of the brand and all that sets it apart, from any unscrupulous activity.
While there are many steps in place to prevent fraud at present, the introduction of a DNA monitoring program would further strengthen the checks already in place to underpin the integrity of the Scotch Beef PGI brand.
QMS is currently seeking feedback from different parts of the beef industry in Scotland on the potential merits of introducing a DNA traceability service for all cattle slaughtered in Scotland.
“This could include the establishment of a Scottish Cattle DNA Database which would underpin the existing quality assurance and brands integrity measures in place for Scotch Beef PGI,” said Mr Clarke.
During his address to farmers in Orkney, Mr Clarke also highlighted some of the priorities he had identified since taking over the reins as chief executive of QMS in July, to ensure the Scottish red meat industry is well-placed to address the challenges and seize the opportunities in the post-Brexit era.
“The key areas I will be focusing on in the coming months include how we can further drive best value return for our levy payers’ money,” said Mr Clarke.
“I’ll also be looking at how QMS can optimise its role in helping to drive sales of Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb and Specially Selected Pork in local, UK and international markets.
“And another key area I will be looking closely at is how we can further develop our stakeholder partnerships to jointly promote our brands.”