VEGA responds to a Defra nonsultation on The Beef and Veal Labelling Regulations 2008
Below is VEGA's response to the Defra Consultation on The Beef and Veal Labelling Regulations 2008 (England)
1. Changes in definitions and use of words that comprehend age, origin, species, rearing, handling, and purpose of animals used in commerce for production of food or 5th quarter products cause difficulties from the time of birth or weaning – or even earlier (eg fetal calf serum); and those causes of misunderstanding arise in the English-speaking world (eg what age does vitello in Italian connote for diners in a restaurant?)
2. Use of much more informative labelling and details easily accessible by consumers by IT are increasingly needed and desirable in the pursuit of provenance, animal welfare, and in anticipation of developments in exploitative husbandry and usage (which might include application for animals killed according to Jewish or Muslim custom). Disposals of bovine male youngsters from dairy herds and commercial exploitation of their meat raise welfare issues of age of “weaning” and possible need for castration and type of housing. Parallel challenges can be faced in other species and usage. Barley beef, for instance, has been used to describe for some time calves, male or female, unwanted as followers or for breeding in dairy and beef herds, applied in intensive methods of feeding, housing, and production.
3. The vocabulary needs to be widened and refined for usage in English-speaking countries. Now is a good time to tackle this task. Useful words can be rescued from neglect. For instance:
• Neat, cattle, cow, bull, ox, stear, bullock, calk, stirk, yearling, suckling, entire…
Similar lists of words in common use in the markets can be drawn up for other species (eg sheep, goats, and pigs); and the repertoire may be extended by resort to prefixes and suffixes. Examples may be cited in various relevant contexts, eg:
• Neatsfoot oil, calvesfoot jelly, calfskin, kidgloves, lambswool, oxtongue, steerbeef, baby beef…
We suggest the usage and descriptions need clarifying by discussions between DEFRA and the FSA and other parties aiming at precision in labelling.