STRICT AGE limits for beef and seasonality in lamb are key aspects of a new quality standard mark for British meat.

Having received EU approval for its Quality Standard, the English Beef and Lamb Executive launched a set of logos and quality standards in London last week (w/e Sept 24), that are aimed at tackling the eating quality issues of tenderness, flavour and succulence.

“The standard sets new requirements above the commercial and legal standards currently applied to beef and lamb,” said Andrew Garvey, head of marketing at EBLEX.

These standards have been based on scientific research and expert advice, added Mr Garvey.

“The EBLEX quality standard will give producers a real point of difference and will provide consumers with reassurance and more consistent eating quality,” he said.

The age restriction on beef will exclude about 30% of cull cows, currently slaughtered in Europe.

And for the first time, the quality standards place an age limit – and additional processing requirements at certain times of the year – on lamb.

Only beef and lamb produced, transported, slaughtered, cut and packaged through a fully assured supply chain (assured and independently audited to EU standards) will be eligible to carry the new EBLEX standard mark.

Multiple retailers and the larger abattoirs, processors and suppliers are likely to already conform to the new ELBEX standards.

“But many independent butchers and a number of smaller to medium-sized abattoirs may have difficulty in meeting the criteria,” said Mr Garvey.

In addition to meeting the quality standards on production and eating quality, the animals would have to be born, raised, slaughtered and processed in England to be eligible for the standard.

However, the significant number of beef and lamb carcasses that cross English borders between Scotland and Wales are not excluded.

“Where produce meets the criteria of the EBLEX quality standard in every respect bar where it is born, raised and slaughtered it can still be embraced by the scheme – but carry a different flag,” said Mr Garvey.

So in the case of lamb or beef crossing borders in Great Britain, the English flag would simply be replaced with the British one.

EBLEX are launching a high-profile campaign next spring, kicking off with TV and radio advertising.

“We‘ll be raising the profile of the EBLEX Quality Standard mark with consumers directly at point of purchase wherever possible,” said Mr Garvey.