Beef traceability and labelling - Niche Food Systems

The Compulsory Beef Labelling Scheme – what you need to know about keeping traceability records concerning meat origins.

All food production businesses in the UK that handle meat must have a traceability system. The systems for various producers may vary depending on their particular activities, but they must meet certain criteria – namely being based on a set of records, that are continually updated. These records can be either computerised or kept manually and may include other information about the beef – such as receipts or delivery notes.The compulsory beef labelling scheme was brought in by the government to ensure that any beef or veal can be traced back to the animal or group of animals that it originally came from – as more consumers are concerned about quality assurance, food traceability and standards when buying meat – particularly since the horsegate scandal in the UK in 2013.

This system ensures that all beef on sale to customers can be traced back to the animal or group of animals it came from.

  • abattoirs or slaughterhouses
  • cutting plants
  • repackaging centres
  • cold stores
  • supermarkets
  • butchers’ shops
  • farm shops
  • mobile shops
  • market stalls
  • suppliers to hotels, restaurants and other catering facilities

Niche Traceability Systems

Here at Niche we have been providing food traceability software and systems to the food industry for twenty years – so if you need a system that is tailored for your business – or you want to make the leap from manual records to paperless traceability – we can help! We know the exact type of information you need to compulsorily record for your business and can also recommend additional information, which can be added to each record to help you keep track.

For beef and veal traceability, the record must show specific information about the product, including:

The supplier’s reference number – To show where the meat came from: for example, the kill number (if from an abattoir) or batch number (from a cutting plant).

Origin information – Information about the meat’s origin and method of slaughter

Your reference number or code – if different from the supplier’s reference number

If the animal was under 12 months of age when it was killed then the abattoir must also record the animal’s date of birth and ID number (It’s unique reference number- such as an ear tag number).

In addition to this information the government states that you should also record the date that each product arrived at your place of business and the date it departed (or the date that it was placed on the counter, if labelled for sale).

Any other information recorded is optional, depending on the nature of the business, and may include:

  • delivery note
  • receipt
  • kill date
  • weight
  • UK ear tag/cattle passport number or reference code
  • product (e.g. type of cut)
  • tray number or colour

Some products may also require further traceability information by law, for example if the meat is kosher, organic or part of a farm assured scheme – like those discussed on the blog last week.

If you are thinking of implementing or improving a traceability system – for any type of food, get in touch! We’ve got both the industry knowledge and the software quality to help your business go further!

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