A Channel 4 documentary has received heavy criticism from the farming sector after it urged viewers to reduce their beef consumption.
The Big British Beef Battle aired on Channel 4 on Friday 1 December and called on the public to eat chicken instead of beef as part of effort to curb climate change, insisting the “climate cost of beef is the highest of any foodstuff”.
Presented by Ade Adepitan, the programme also pushed to “make beef the new smoking”.
The AHDB told Farmers Weekly it had contacted the producers of the show both before and after it went to air, raising a number of concerns about the way evidence related to livestock emissions was presented.
An AHDB spokesman said: “As has often been seen with programmes such as this, the argument very much focused on referring to average global emissions and intensive, feedlot-style production, when in reality, the conversation and science has moved on considerably.
“The programme made little mention of the UK’s extensive production, which relies predominantly on grass as a main source of feed for livestock and provides a number of benefits for nature, land management and climate action.”
The AHDB has also submitted a complaint about the programme to the UK’s communications regulator Ofcom.
The Big British Beef Battle formed part of Change Climate Season on Channel 4 and coincided with the COP28 climate change talks under way in Dubai.
The programme received a one-star review from The Guardian, with TV critic Lucy Mangan describing it as “stupid, shouty, and patronising”.
Tony Goodger, spokesman for the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers added: “When the programme in question is described by The Guardian as ‘shoddy’ and an ‘insult’, I can only conclude that a period of absence from our TV screens resulted in the presenter, Ade Adepitan, taking Channel 4’s cue to act as their patsy in a conversation about beef farming and climate change, about which he clearly knows little.
“Give somebody a megaphone and you can almost guarantee that they will make a fool of themselves.”
Large numbers of farmers took to social media over the weekend expressing outrage at the programme.
Welsh farmer Gareth Wyn Jones wrote on social media platform X, that it was “unbelievable the harm you’ve tried to bring on hard-working British beef farming families”.
Lincolnshire farmer Andrew Ward said: “In light of this weekend’s rubbish about eating beef, I wonder if there is any other person who is constantly told how to do their job more than a farmer, when the advice is coming with zero knowledge of what’s involved?
“It’s just relentless, but we must keep putting our head above the parapet and countering the garbage.”
In light of this weekends rubbish about eating beef, I wonder if there is any other person who is constantly told how to do their job more than a farmer when the advice is coming with zero knowledge of what’s involved? It’s just relentless but we must keep putting our head above…
— Andrew Ward 🇬🇧🚜 (@wheat_daddy) December 3, 2023