AHDB to test butcher shops for pork origins

By Aidan Fortune contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pork in UK butcher shops will be tested to determine its country of origin
Pork in UK butcher shops will be tested to determine its country of origin

Related tags: Pork

UK levy organisation Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is to extend its isotope testing on pork products to include local butcher shops.

Previously, the levy board limited its routine isotope testing of pork products, which claim to be British, to larger retailers but has now expanded it to independent butcher shops.

Isotope testing indicates where an animal was raised, so can highlight the possibility that imported pork products are being mis-sold as British.

Angela Christison, AHDB’s Pork strategy director said: “Retailers and butchers across the country are championing British pork and we need to protect these businesses. We all have a part to play in retaining consumer confidence and trust around our food. Extending the reach of this robust science will help protect the integrity of the British pig industry.”

If tests reveal that meat being marketed as British does not originate from Britain, the appropriate authorities will be informed and will be able to take action to address the situation.

Speaking to Global Meat News, an AHDB spokesperson explained the process. "Purchases will be made at random from butchers shops across the country by 'mystery shopper' and there will be no warning."​ The spokesperson added that it will not be acting on information received from whistle-blowers but rather relying on the mystery shopper process.

The move was praised by the UK butchery industry. Claire Holland, manager of the butchery organisation Q Guild, told Global Meat News she welcomed the new testing.

“Q Guild Butchers are known for their high quality pork and pork products, which whenever possible they source from local farms.  This type of testing supports their values and offers an even greater consumer confidence in retail butchers and farm shops.”

Richard Stevenson, technical manager at National Craft Butchers also welcomed the plan but urged sensitivity in the process. "The nation's craft butchers wholeheartedly support the British pig industry and are proud to sell a high-quality product produced to the highest standards.

"As we saw during the horse meat scandal, it is far more likely that other sectors of the industry would be guilty of mis-selling. However, some businesses that caught up in that scandal were misled by their suppliers. Whereas we support these efforts by AHDB, we also hope that any negative results are handled sensitively to protect innocent victims of rogue suppliers."

According to AHDB and Office for National Statistics data, there are approximately 6,000 independent butchers in the UK.

Related topics: Retail, United Kingdom, Pork

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