NFU's Annoyance At Asda's Labelling Policy

UK - The National Farmers Union (NFU) has called on Asda to change its labelling policy after it emerged that its meat marked ‘Hereford Prime Beef Sirloin Steak’ is sourced 6,800 miles away in Uruguay.
calendar icon 12 September 2011
clock icon 2 minute read
National Farmers Union

The supermarket is able to brand its product in such a way because the type of cattle used are indeed Herefords, even if the animals are reared, slaughtered and cut in South America.

Only upon a closer look at the fine print does the tell-tale 'URU' reveals the truth.

The NFU is now considering a complaint to Trading Standards.

Head of our food chain unit, Lee Woodger, felt most consumers would believe that they were putting a British product reared to stringent standards into their trolley.

He said: “We feel that this is taking away business from British farmers. It is passing something off as looking like it has UK heritage, when in fact it doesn’t."

“The beef is being sold alongside meat that was clearly labelled as British and Irish. The use of the word Hereford suggests that it is from Herefordshire."

"There is also a UK cutting plant number. I think shoppers will assume it is British."

Mr Woodger added that the product exposed flaws in the rules on country of origin information that supermarkets have signed up to.

And he criticised the farming minister, Jim Paice, for a failure to deliver on promises for stricter laws made in opposition. Find out more about our lobbying in this area here.

As it stands, Asda can argue it has done nothing wrong and the chain has told the NFU that, in its view, the label is technically correct and legal. Mr Woodger added: “In theory the label may meet the technical requirements of the law, but that does not mean it is not misleading.”

The NFU also has questions about whether the beef can be properly described as Hereford, as the practice in South America is to cross breed cattle with other hardy types, such as the Zebu.

The imported Uruguayan beef steak sells at £15.46 a kilo - no cheaper than its British rival.

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