Staunch Defence of Scotch Beef Brand at Union AGM

Retailers and manufacturers urged to put provenance before profit

NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller has used his Presidential address at the Union’s Centenary AGM to call for retailers and food manufacturers to put the provenance and integrity of their products before profit.

It the wake of the growing scandal around mis-labelled processed beef products found to contain horsemeat, the Union has reassured all parts of the food chain that Scottish farmers and the Scotch Beef brand can deliver the high levels of traceability and quality that consumers expect and deserve.

The Union accepts that tightening up of the audit trail in Scotland may be appropriate but wholesale changes to the flawed audit process for imported processed products are urgently required.

Speaking at the Union’s Centenary AGM in St Andrews, President Nigel Miller said:

“The clear message for retailers and food manufacturers out of this whole debacle is that food production must not be focussed purely on profit – people clearly care about the provenance of their food.

“This damaging scandal has exposed the lengthy supply chains now involved in producing manufactured meat products.  These now stretch from a Scottish supermarket freezer cabinet to processing sites in Ireland or France all the way to abattoirs in Eastern Europe.

“The longer the chain, the more difficult the challenge in auditing that process.  However, it is a process where more robust checks and balances must be rapidly introduced if we are to  avoid having our Scottish industry undermined in this manner in the future.

“For retailers and manufacturers, there is a clear opportunity for them to shorten those chains and give Scottish producers the chance to meet all their requirements.  Scotch beef’s reputation is founded on quality and our brand is synonymous with roasts and steaks.  However, we need to sell the whole of a beef carcase and there is ample scope for minced Scotch beef to fill the manufacturing requirement for burgers and sausages.

“Restaurant giant McDonald’s, who have a platform here at our AGM, are proud to fulfil all the burger requirement for their Scottish stores with Scottish beefburgers and that is a clear message to others in the retail and catering sectors on what can be achieved.

“FSA Scotland and Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead will meet with Scottish stakeholders later today (Monday, 11 February) to discuss this debacle and what the implications are for the Scotch Beef brand of catastrophic failings that have occurred well away from the Scottish industry.

“We understand from FSA Scotland that the necessary checks on the Scottish sector are well underway and those checks are the first steps towards independent scrutiny of our beef chain.
Such an audit trail for Scotch Beef is a vital part of future consumer choice.  It is fundamental to every part of the chain and delivers genuine integrity that consumers can put their trust in."

Notes to Editors

  • NFU Scotland’s President Nigel Miller was addressing NFU Scotland’s Centenary AGM and Dinner taking place at the Fairmont Hotel, St Andrews today (11 February) and tomorrow (12 February). 
  • Other speakers include Defra Minister for food and farming David Heath; Scottish Secretary of State Michael Moore; Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead and Scottish MEP Alyn Smith.  Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond will address a drinks reception tonight (11 February).
  • A photograph of Nigel Miller will be available at 1.00pm from  


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 17/13

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