‘Q’ question: Beef Plan outlines concerns on Quality Assurance labels

The Beef Plan Movement has outlined a number of concerns relating to the Bord Bia Quality Assurance “Q Mark” labels and their uses.

In a statement last night, Sunday, September 8, Beef Plan is calling for an immediate comprehensive independent investigation into “potential anomalies regarding the use of Bord Bia Quality Assured-Origin Ireland Q mark” on beef products across all large multiple retailer stores across the country.

The movement has also sought a review of transport arrangements for meat across the country in an effort to cut emissions and assist climate action target efforts.

The farm organisation noted that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine confirmed that retailers will not be present at today’s resumption of beef talks.

Beef Plan highlighted research conducted by its volunteers which compared what was on supermarket shelves with guidance on the Bord Bia’s website to establish consistency and to check that what is on Bord Bia’s website reflects reality on the aisles of our major retailers.

The farm body noted that the Bord Bia website states that “quality assured food that is produced and processed in the Republic of Ireland will have the Origin Ireland Q mark”.

It also quotes Bord Bia that “quality assured food may be farmed in Republic of Ireland and processed in Northern Ireland”, labelled with the middle logo, while the Q mark on the right can be used if “produced and processed in Ireland and Northern Ireland”.

However, during supermarket research carried out over the weekend, Beef Plan says that its volunteers found two stores stocking Deluxe Irish Hereford lean beef steak mince slaughtered in Ireland but minced in the UK.

Beef Plan claims that the branded mince it found is inconsistent with the guidance provided on Bord Bia’s website, questioning whether the “Bord Bia website is misleading on the requirements, or the logo used is in fact the incorrect one”.

It also raised questions on the environmental aspect, querying the emissions produced by bringing meat from a plant in the republic up to be processed in the UK or Northern Ireland – only to be “brought back to Dublin for sale via a central distribution centre”.

In further research of Bord Bia’s website, Beef Plan found it displaying Q mark logos for meat originating in Italy and Hungary.

“Since Bord Bia is funded by Irish farmers by way of statutory levy deductions which is a mandatory deduction from the farmer’s cheque every time an animal is slaughtered, it is curious why our hard-earned cash is being spent on logos for meat originating from other countries,” Beef Plan said.

“Surely the promotion of Origin Ireland beef should be the priority of the marketing agency?

“Beef Plan looks forward to the independent investigation commencing as soon as possible – certainly within the coming days,” the statement concluded.