Transparency in the meat industry

It’s no secret that the UK has been a fine producer of top quality meat for many years, but in recent weeks this has been called into question by the high profile probe into meat fraud conducted by Farmers Weekly.

cows in field

We are a nation of carnivores, with 91% of people in Britain choosing to eat meat[1]. However, as popular as meat may be to many diners, nothing is more important than feeling confident that the meat they receive is high in quality, safe, and of course, tasty.    

Neil McCole, Business Unit Director at Campbell Brothers, one of the UK’s leading wholesale butchers, gives his thoughts on the current situation of the meat industry and what to look out for to ensure best practise is adhered to. 

“Sadly, over the last couple of months we’ve seen the ugly head of scandal emerge within the meat supply chain, and even more disappointingly, it’s not for the first time in recent years.

This will undoubtedly raise a number of key questions from those who love to incorporate meat into their diet. Is the industry doing enough to combat these issues? How can I trust that my meat is good quality? And, how do I know it is actually from where the supplier claims it has been sourced?

The industry has come on leaps and bounds over the last decade, but the FSA has a near on impossible job of being able to keep an eye on everything. Therefore, as an industry we need to take matters into our own hands to reassure operators and provide confidence, trust and transparency.

Abiding by meat quality associations and having certified accreditations associated to products is the first big green flag operators should be looking for. It’s vital that catering butchers meet the requirements of all relevant legislation for food safety across all areas. 

The BRC (British Retail Consortium), Red Tractor, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), and Soil Association accreditation are just some of the organisations and auditors Campbell Brothers work closely with, and operators should look out for evidence of their suppliers working to the guidelines that these associations state. At Campbell Brothers, our long-standing relationships with our suppliers ensures we can source consistent, quality meat, to suit the requirements of chefs working at all levels of catering. What’s more, we source meat locally wherever possible. For example, our haggis and black pudding come from suppliers just a few miles from our Bonnyrigg site in Scotland. This not only supports local businesses but means we know exactly where our meat has come from and significantly reduces food miles.

We do also appreciate that sourcing quality meat is only half the job when it comes to good practice, it counts for very little if not prepared properly once received. Food safety is of utmost importance to us and our state-of-the-art butchery facility allows us to upstand the highest standards.

Our bespoke facilities allow us to ensure that no corners are cut when it comes to safety and that the products that leave our premises are the very best. Some of our dedicated preparation areas include:

  • Poultry room
  • Red meat room
  • Manufacturing area
  • Packing areas – where all our meat is packaged in the areas it is produced to avoid contamination. 

As a larger company within the industry, it’s important to fully understand our customers. Priding ourselves not only on our fantastic range, but more importantly on our honesty and transparency, we do our best to keep our customers up to date with the latest news and factors affecting the industry.

The cost of living has pinched the pockets of many operators in recent months. By keeping up to date with what’s going on in the meat industry, as well as pricing trends will help you to adapt your menu and mitigate the impact of food inflation accordingly.

Therefore, to give added value to our customers and help navigate these tricky times, we produce a quarterly meat market report to provide insight into availability and price affecting the wholesale meat market, helping operators to plan their menu over the months ahead.”

So, whilst we’re lucky to have industry bodies such as the FSA to keep an eye on the supply chain, the real responsibility lies on the shoulders of those in the industry. Certifications and accreditations go a long way in instilling trust, coupled with great facilities and strong, authentic values make for a top quality offering.   

[1] Mintel, Processed Poultry and Red Meat Main Meal Components – UK – 2021