The chief executive of the National Beef Association, Robert Forster, has defended his decision to raise questions about Irish beef production standards, despite criticism from the NBA’s Northern Ireland branch.

Thomas O’Brien, vice-chairman of NI NBA, issued a statement last week complaining that Mr Forster had “consistently maligned Irish beef and erroneously put it into the same category as Brazilian beef”.

Mr O’Brien, who said he spoke on behalf of the whole NI committee, claimed Mr Forster was out of touch with the beef industry.

“Instead of trashing the quality of Irish beef he should be voicing concern regarding the lack of quality control within the entire Brazilian beef industry.”

Highlighting problems

But Mr Forster has dismissed the comments, pointing out he was one of the first farm leaders to highlight problems with Brazilian beef.

He also claimed that, far from getting complaints about the comments he had made, he had actually received messages of support from ordinary NI farmers.

“We are a UK organisation that is there to protect UK farmers. Our policy is that any beef that enters the UK should be to the same standards that UK farmers meet, but we have serious concerns over how much beef from the ROI is farm-assured.”