Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has today (Wednesday, December 8) welcomed the launch of the next phase of consultation on Ireland’s application for Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’ by the European Commission.
Minister McConalogue said: “I welcome that the application has progressed to this stage of the process following the European Commission’s scrutiny.
“It is now open to other member states and third countries having a legitimate interest to make submissions on the application with the commission within a three-month period. A huge amount of work has gone into [the application].
“In regard to the possibility of extending the geographical area of the PGI to include Northern Ireland at the appropriate time, my department and Bord Bia continue to liaise with their counterparts in Northern Ireland, and I understand that the commission will now be available to join those discussions as needed,” the minister added.
“I am keen to see the PGI application extended on an all-island basis as I believe it can be beneficial to all our beef farmers.”
PGI for ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’
Under EU quality schemes, the names of products for which an intrinsic link exists between product qualities or characteristics and geographical origin, are protected.
- Protected designations of origin (PDO) for agricultural products and foodstuffs, and wines;
- Protected geographical indications (PGI) for agricultural products and foodstuffs and wines;
- Geographical indications (GI) for spirit drinks and aromatised wines;
- Traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG) for food and agricultural products.
After an extensive consultation process with stakeholders in Ireland, a PGI application for ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’ from Bord Bia, on behalf of producers, was submitted to the European Commission in November 2020 by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).
Between May and October 2021, the DAFM and Bord Bia responded to European Commission queries as part of the commission’s scrutiny of the application.
The consultation procedure now launched allows third countries or a member state (other than Ireland) having a legitimate interest, to lodge a notice of opposition with the commission supported by a reasoned statement of opposition.
The three-month period for opposition may be extended by the European Commission.
According to the application, ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’ is the name given to fresh and frozen bone-in and boneless beef, including carcasses, quarters, bone-in cuts, boneless primals, minced beef of those cuts and retail packs.
‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’ has:
- Low overall fat levels;
- An even distribution of fat (as intermuscular marbling);
- A pronounced cherry-red meat colour;
- A high degree of creaminess/yellowness of fat. It has a rich, complex, grassy, succulent and juicy meat with a true beefy flavour and is tender.
Carcasses must be from the following two categories: Steers and heifers aged up to 36 months with conformation better than O- and fat score between 2+ and 4+ or, beef cows of up to 120 months with conformation better than O+ and with fat score between 2+ and 5.
‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’ only includes cattle that derive at least 90% of their feed intake from grass. This is primarily grazed grass, with winter feeding of conserved grass.
Cattle must also spend a minimum of 220 days/year throughout their lifetime grazing pasture. Each year, as soon as weather conditions permit, ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’ cattle are sent to pasture and spend 10 months, of entire days, grazing grass.
Typically, cattle are housed in late November/early December when weather and ground conditions no longer facilitate active grass growth and/or grazing.
A tolerance of up to 40 days is allowed due to exceptional circumstances, defined as: Where weather, soil condition, other environmental conditions or animal welfare considerations are impeding factors.