Senior executives of Tesco UK have confirmed to ICOS that Tesco’s final farm residency requirement for cattle prior to going to slaughter in meat factories is 20 days of continuous residency on the last quality assured farm prior to slaughter.

In the UK, Tesco observes the Red Tractor Beef Quality Assurance Scheme which requires cattle to reside on a quality assured farm for a total of 90 days prior to slaughter. The 90 days can be made up of any combination of days on one or more farms. Tesco stipulates that 20 days of this time must be spent continuously on the last farm prior to slaughter.

According to ICOS, this highlights a major irregularity in the position of Irish-owned meat factories who require Irish cattle to reside for a continuous 70-day period on their last farm prior to slaughter, which they state is due to ‘consumer requirements’.

This measure radically exceeds the provisions of the Bord Bia Beef and Lamb Quality Assurance Scheme which allows for movements between quality assured farms during the 70-day period.

The Irish meat factories enforce this measure through their Quality Payment System where cattle that have moved holdings in the last 70 days before slaughter are penalised and do not qualify for the QPS bonus. The QPS is also withheld if cattle have had more than four movements from farm to farm prior to slaughter, even if all farms are quality assured.

ICOS says this practice discriminates specifically against the livestock marts sector where Irish meat factories have effectively removed trade in factory fit animals from livestock marts.