Reassurance on Quality Standard Mark

I would like to reassure George Debman and many other supporters of the EBLEX Quality Standard Mark that reports of the demise of the scheme have been very much exaggerated.

EBLEX understands the important role butchers and independent suppliers play and we will continue to work on both how the EBLEX Quality Standard Scheme (QSS) fits with our QSS members, and also those who are licensed by Assured Food Standards (AFS) to use the Red Tractor, to exploit the market opportunities for quality assured beef and lamb through all trade sectors, including export markets.

We have a close collaborative working relationship with AFS, especially its beef and lamb sector board, and the licensing infrastructure for the Red Tractor is still being developed to extend its reach effectively into non-supermarket sectors. We are looking forward to working with AFS on this project, but in the meantime, the QSS will be there to support that valued part of the trade.

The state aid approval for the Red Tractor, which now allows us to use levy funds to promote the scheme, is good news. The Red Tractor is already carried on qualifying packs of assured beef and lamb throughout the majority of the supermarket trade and we will be deploying levy money in support of the Red Tractor progressively as new marketing/promotional material is produced over the coming months.

We would totally agree with George that the trade in general would benefit from enhanced origin labelling, especially in the catering sector. We all aspire to have honest labelling in all sectors and the flag of origin encompassed within the Red Tractor mark makes provenance very clear.

If the Red Tractor logo on a pack of meat carries the Union flag underneath, then the meat is British, and the packing plant is independently audited regarding this claim. Any packer or retailer who uses the Union flag on a food product which is not British is not only in breach of the AFS licence to use the Red Tractor, but is also breaking both UK and EU labelling law and is liable to be prosecuted.

The rules on the use of all quality assurance marks regarding origin are exactly the same, whether for the Red Tractor or the EBLEX and BPEX marks.

Nick Allen, EBLEX sector director

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