Retailers and processors back Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society DNA sampling

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Leading retailers and processors have put their weight behind the Aberdeen-Angus Society’s ongoing DNA sampling scheme.

Speaking ahead of next week’s Stirling Bull Sales, Duncan Sinclair of Waitrose said both the supermarket and its dedicated beef supplier, Dovecote Park, had been greatly encouraged by the Society’s move to DNA sample every pedigree Aberdeen-Angus calf.

“This is further assurance for our customers that when they select Aberdeen-Angus beef in any of our stores that is exactly what they’ll be getting.

“It goes further than ever before to underpin the authenticity and integrity of the beef sold under the Aberdeen-Angus brand,” he added.

“Waitrose first launched Aberdeen-Angus beef in 1997 and over the last 18 years, a significant amount of effort has gone in to ensure only beef from pedigree Aberdeen-Angus sired animals has been sold at our branches under the Aberdeen-Angus brand.

“These new and significant steps to incorporate DNA sampling from the current genetic pool is a really positive move for all elements of the supply chain, most importantly for consumers, and we warmly welcome this new development,” explained Mr Sinclair.

Adding further comment Marks and Spencer’s head of agriculture and fisheries Steve McLean said today’s consumers required more assurances than ever before. “The modern consumer is very conscious of recent food scares and rightly wants to know that what’s claimed on the packet is what is in it.

“As a retailer we, therefore, require assurances at every level of the supply chain and that means right the way back to the pedigree industry to ensure consumers get what they’re paying for.”

Mr McLean said that while it wasn’t for Marks and Spencer to tell pedigree breeders what to do he did feel commercial buyers would welcome the extra integrity offered by extensive DNA sampling.

Backing the comments of both Waitrose and Marks and Spencer, processor Neil Stoddart of A K Stoddart said that having been actively involved for many years in promotion of the Aberdeen-Angus breed and brand, experience suggested that proving the authenticity of individual animals was an ongoing challenge. “However, as the database is populated this initiative will enhance the credibility of the DNA testing programme which our company is already conducting. It can only be positive for the breed, the industry, and ultimately for consumers.”

Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society chief executive Ron McHattie said the move to DNA sample all calves had been done to ensure the breed’s integrity was maintained at every level, but importantly to provide further assurance to retailers and consumers.

“The Aberdeen-Angus brand is recognised across the world as a sign of quality beef and in the UK it is vital that we do all we can to ensure that brand isn’t being abused.

“DNA sampling all calves will help the Society ensure the integrity of the herd book and mean commercial buyers can buy Aberdeen-Angus bulls with confidence. It will provide processors and retailers with the assurance they and their customers need that beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus sired is just that.”