Love beef, consumers urged

The Northern Irish meat industry is hoping to stir up a bit of passion among consumers with the launch of its first Love Beef Week.

The event, which runs all this week, has been organised by the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) to highlight Northern Ireland's Farm Quality Assured (FQA) beef.

The event is the first of its kind and organisers are encouraging consumers to buy Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured beef.

LMC's Maria McLaughlin said it comes at an important time for the local industry. "It is no secret that the beef industry in Northern Ireland has had to face significant challenges over recent years. The purpose of Love Beef Week is to highlight the outstanding local beef industry we have and emphasise that the public can play their part in supporting our local farmers by buying FQA beef.

"By buying FQA beef, the consumer has complete piece of mind that the beef is fully traceable and satisfies the highest European standards", says Maria.

Agriculture minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA said: "Farm Quality Assured beef is a first class product which offers consumers peace of mind that the beef is fully traceable and has been produced to the highest standards of food safety, animal welfare and environmental management.

Gildernew added: "Our world class cattle traceability system is a well established and reliable method of tracing cattle movements within the food chain. This combined with our great tradition of quality beef production from family farms clearly shows that 'Good Food really is in our Nature'."

There are over 10,000 FQA farmers in Northern Ireland. The Farm Quality Assurance Scheme demands 'best practice' and means that scrupulous production methods are used to ensure uncompromising food safety, high animal welfare and care for the environment.

Nutritionists recommend eating at least two portions of red meat per week as part of a balanced diet. Beef is a rich source of essential nutrients including zinc, protein, iron, B vitamins and Omega 3. The fat content of beef has fallen by a third over the last 20 years and cuts such as topside, silverside and rumpsteak can now have less than 5% fat.

A website, will support the week and features a range of recipes to tempt consumers.

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