Irish Grass Fed Beef PGI application: Bulls excluded with travel limit inserted

Ireland’s submission to the EU to register ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’ as a protected geographical indication (PGI) includes a number of proposed restrictions – including a two-hour limit on travel to slaughter, as well as the exclusion of bulls and dairy cows.

In the application document that was submitted to Europe, ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’ is described as the name given to fresh and frozen bone-in and boneless beef, including carcasses, quarters, bone-in cuts, boneless primals, retail packs, manufacturing beef and offal derived from selected higher grade beef cattle, raised on a grass-based diet on pasture grazing farms in Ireland.

‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’

The submission notes that ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’ only includes cattle that: (a) derive at least 90% of their feed intake (as determined by the Grass Fed Beef Standard) from grass (primarily grazed grass, with winter feeding of conserved grass – silage and hay); and (b) spend a minimum of 220 days per year throughout their lifetime grazing pasture.

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The document, submitted by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, notes that selection criteria used will mean that only carcasses from certain higher-grade beef animals are eligible to be classified as ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’.

These include:
  • Steers and heifers aged up to 36 months with conformation better than O- and a fat score between 2+ and 4+;
  • Beef cows of up to 120 months with conformation better than O+ and with a fat score between 2+ and 5.

The application states that the minimum grazing period for ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’ is set at 220 days “to cater for producers that experience high rainfall, due to their geographic location”.

‘Right conditions’

In addition, it highlights:

“Creating the right conditions pre and post-slaughter and well-managed chilling and meat maturation processes are important aspects in the production and processing of ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’ that ensure optimum eating quality.

Stress is minimised through: the use of registered and approved hauliers; low transport times [all producers are within two hours of at least one of over 30 approved abattoirs]; and a combination of penning in social groups within lairages and pre-slaughter resting, which together ensure that the animals’ glycogen reserves at slaughter [essential for the commencement of proper meat maturation] are preserved.

“Refrigeration takes place immediately after carcass dressing and adherence to strict chilling, handling and maturation processes ensures that the eating quality of ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’ is consistently achieved,” the PGI submission outlines.