IRELAND - Farmers in the Republic of Ireland have hit out at the supermarkets chain over claims that consumers do not want to eat beef from cattle reared in the Republic and slaughtered in Northern Ireland.
The claims made in the national newspaper the Irish Independent that in the wake of the horse meat scandal many UK supermarket chains are refusing to sell beef that has more than one country of origin on the label.
The newspaper says that farm organisations have been calling on Irish Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to persuade UK supermarkets to start taking mixed-origin beef again to ease pressure on cattle farmers.
But it says that Tesco is unlikely to change to mixed origin beef.
Now the Irish Cattle and Sheep Association beef chairman Edmond Phelan (pictured) has challenged Tesco to produce independently verifiable research to confirm its assertions that UK consumers do not want beef from animals born in the Republic of Ireland and slaughtered in the North.
"Tesco are treating their consumers like children," said Mr. Phelan.
"We're not talking here about animals born thousands of miles from where they are finished and slaughtered.
“There is little or no difference between beef production methods and standards in the Republic and the North, and we find it hard to believe that a British consumer would object to beef from an animal born in County Monaghan and finished in County Down.
"If labelling really is an issue, then why not come up with a straightforward labelling system such as used in other countries?
“Italian consumers seem to have no problem understanding the mixed-origin labels on beef from cattle raised in Ireland and finished in Italy.
"The hyping up of outdated distinctions like the 30-month requirement is another example of the artificial obstacles used by retailers to manipulate the market," Mr. Phelan added.
"Are we really to believe that the consumer is happy to eat beef from a 29-month old animal but not from one that is 31 months old? These fabricated excuses which undermine farm viability are no longer acceptable and must end now."
TheMeatSite News Desk