Scotch Beef turned 25 years old last year – but just what constitutes as ‘Scotch’ and why is seen by some as the gold standard for meat-eaters?
Over 25 years ago the Protected Geographical Indication known as ‘Scotch Beef’ was registered with the EU, ensuring that this name could not be given to beef that has not been produced according to the meticulous standards that dozens of Farms and Processors are held to.
Given its age and success, the Scotch Beef PGI is now the longest established scheme of its kind and has proven invaluable for Scottish tourism. Thanks to its rigorous standards and worldwide reputation, Scotch Beef is a major draw for tourists from all over the world who come to Scotland to try this beef at its source. Whilst these foodie tourists are in the country they’ll spend hundreds of pounds in accommodation (mini break in a Highland lodge with a hot tub, anyone?) and restaurants, making the continued success of the Scotch Beef industry a real boon to the Scottish economy.
But just how are these standards kept so high? We chatted to Rory Jeffreys, a farmer that has spent the past 10 years dedicating himself to producing quality Scotch Beef, about how he keeps his Beef up to scratch and the kind of rigorous tests that his farm is put through before he can get the stamp of approval to sell his product.
“Every Scotch Beef PGI that is sold can be traced back to its origin, part of gaining the certification means that you open your operation up to some pretty intrusive tests and audit, but I believe that it’s all worth it when you can call your meat Scotch Beef at the end of the day. We’ve always been committed to our welfare and hygiene standards, but having the pressure of knowing that an auditing team could appear at literally any time to check up on us keeps us focused on our work.”
An important characteristic of Scotch Beef is that the animals are all from a happy and healthy livestock. In practical terms this means that animals bred on Scotch Farms are given their chance to roam around freed and are also not injected with unnecessary vaccinations or hormones that would serve to compromise the quality of the meat. In most cases, farmers will strive to maintain cattle populations using natural methods, this means that young calves will be suckled for the first 6 months of their lives which gives them a chance to develop a valuable relationship with both their mother, as well as the farm that they will grow up on.
As for the breeds of cattle that are used on these farms, Rory tells us that regardless of if they’re dealing with a pure-bred native or cross-breed, in order for the Scotch Beef PGI to be given the breed but have originated from a herd that is suited to the climate in Scotland. This factor is important when considering the welfare of the animal, not to mention the environment and the resulting quality of the meat.
“Scotch Beef is more than just an arbitrary name given to beef that is reared within Scotland, it’s a cultural marker for this country’s dedication to excellent animal welfare and a world-class product.”