Fraudulent breeders threaten trust in entire cattle industry
Date of alert:
Thursday, 26 May 2022
Cattle paperwork errors, whether pre-meditated or unwitting, risk undermining food safety and threaten consumer trust in beef and dairy, says Defra.
It has reminded farmers that animal identification and traceability underpins food safety.
The warning follows the Ballinloan Jaegerbomb scandal, and the Trading Standards review of the Bells of Hilltop Farm Cumbria, which resulted in a £20,000 fine.
“If it is perceived that measures to correctly identify animals are poor, consumer confidence in the safety of beef, and possibly dairy produce, could be lost,” Defra told Farmers Weekly.
Defra listed the following records as impinging on food safety regulations:
Date of birth: The range of specified risk material that must be removed from cattle after slaughter varies depending upon the age of the animal, and the requirement to take a brain stem sample to test for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) in “at risk” cattle applies to all animals over 48 months of age. Age is determined from the records on the Cattle Tracing System (CTS) and its passport.
Sire and dam: TSE susceptibility is passed down through the dam (not the sire), so if a keeper does not provide the correct dam ID information when applying to British Cattle Movement Service for a passport, TSE traceability can be compromised.
Incorrect movements: If keepers do not report to the CTS the movement of cattle on and off their holdings (or report them late), the ability to trace and apply measures to reduce disease spread may be compromised in the event of a disease outbreak.
Zootechnical certification on semen: Zootech legislation facilitates the trade of pedigree animals and germinal products (including semen and embryos) on equivalent terms. It applies to bovine, equine, porcine, caprine and ovine species. Animals imported or produced from imported germinal products should not be entered into the main section of a herd book without an accompanying valid zootechnical certificate for either the animal or the germinal products which produced it.
Minority of rule breakers
John Royle, NFU chief livestock adviser, leapt to the defence of the industry, stating those purposefully breaking the rules are “most definitely in the minority” of farmers and breeders.