Zebu genes confirmed in Brazilian beef

Tests on imported Brazilian beef organised by the Farmers Union of Wales have confirmed the presence of Zebu genes, casting further doubt on its eating quality.

The FUW’s Carmarthenshire branch sent Brazilian rump steaks bought at a local Tesco store to IdentiGEN Genetic Testing Service in Dublin for DNA analysis. All tested positive for genes from Zebu cattle.

“Zebu cattle are adapted to hot climates,” said Peter Davies, the union branch’s executive officer. “During the 1970s the Meat Animal Research Centre in Nebraska started a beef breed evaluation programme which looked at a range of pure breeds including European and Zebu cattle. This and other studies have shown that Zebu cattle have poor carcass quality.”

The DNA test results confirmed that the union was right to picket the supermarket in September and to warn customers that they were being sold inferior-quality beef, he said. Consumers also needed to know that imports were coming in from countries where production standards were much lower than in the UK.

“Ironically UK supermarkets insist on standards from Welsh farmers which appear to be non-existent in Brazil,” said Mr Davies. “This confirms the disgraceful hypocrisy and double standards of UK supermarkets.”

Meanwhile, a delegation of beef producers from Dumfries and Galloway has travelled to South America this week to study beef production in Brazil. Funded by Scottish Enterprise’s Planning to Succeed project, the group aims to assess the threat posed by Brazilian beef and develop ideas on how to combat it.

A similar visit to South America by Northern Ireland beef representatives this week has had to take Brazil out of its schedule, because the Brazilian export body ABIEC was too busy to escort the delegation.

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