A study to look at the feasibility of introducing DNA traceability as an additional measure to guarantee the authenticity of Scotch Beef PGI, is being commissioned by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
The study follows a period of engagement with different parts of the Scottish meat industry, to gauge the level of industry support for the potential introduction of an official programme of DNA traceability system.
“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,” said Jim McLaren, Chairman of QMS.
“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.”
Mr McLaren also pointed out that Scotch Beef was one of the first meat brands to benefit from the coveted European Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, which is hugely valued by customers all over the world.
“Crucially, our industry’s brand is underpinned by a world-leading, whole-of-life, whole-chain quality assurance programme – from farm to processor. Our beef producers in Scotland benefit from a price premium for their beef and it is vital this valuable reward for the work they do to deliver a quality product, is not undermined.”
The industry, he said, must be able to robustly defend the integrity of the brand and all that sets it apart, from any unscrupulous activity.
Emphasising that there are many steps already in place to prevent fraud at present, Mr McLaren said 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.
“Consumer trust is a key aspect of our Scotch Beef PGI brand and protecting the brand is vitally important,” added Mr McLaren. “We need to ensure its premium market position is protected and it is possible that DNA testing may offer the potential to take the existing quality assurance and brands integrity measures in place to a new level.”
The feasibility study, which is currently tendered, will consider the potential benefits that the introduction of a beef DNA traceability system could have on the Scotch Beef PGI brand. It will also consider how a DNA traceability system could be implemented, including when and where the samples would be taken.