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Irish Grass fed Beef becomes PGI

EU Commission recognizes its status due to its unique characteristics and origin

Enjoyed around the world, Irish pasture-raised beef has recently been granted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Union. The title is granted by the European Commission in particular to products that present an intrinsic link between the qualities or characteristics of the product and the geographical origin of a specific area of the European Union. In the case of Irish beef, this award recognizes the expertise of local family farms and the contribution of Ireland's lush pastures to the production of exceptional beef with a unique taste and texture.

The granting of a PGI standard for Ireland is directly linked to Ireland's Grass Fed Standard, launched in 2020 by Bord Bia, the government body for the promotion of food and drink in the Emerald Isle, and Teagasc, the Irish development authority of agriculture and food, which provides a guarantee and independent verification of this exclusive indication. Ireland's Grass Fed Standard is a system that allows the volume of grass consumed by beef cattle to be quantified, using data collected during farm audits as part of Bord Bia's National Program for Assured Quality and Sustainability of Beef and Sheep Irish (Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme - Sblas). This guarantees that Grass Fed beef - now also recognized as PGI - comes from qualified animals that follow a diet composed of at least 90% grass (mainly grazed grass and withered grass for winter feeding) and that graze in open pastures for a minimum of 220 days per year during their lifetime.

For James O'Donnell , Italian director of Bord Bia, the recognition of the PGI denomination "rewards a truly unique product not only for its excellent nutritional properties and its recognizable taste, but also because it is the symbol of a controlled supply chain that respects both the nature and the people who work there". Board Bia's will is now to "share this result starting with the first distributions of the now certified product in the Italian market, a country that demonstrates particular attention to quality in terms of product and production", concludes O'Donnell .

There are two categories that allow Irish beef to obtain PGI recognition: steers and heifers up to 36 months old with a conformation better than O- and a fat score between 2+ and 4+. Or, beef cows up to 120 months old, with conformation better than O+ and a fat score between 2+ and 5. The two categories must be separated, boned, packaged and labeled. Slaughterhouses must be evaluated to verify that they have a burgundy red meat color and a high degree of creaminess in the fat, which is golden thanks to the beta-carotene present in the grass the animals eat. The maturation of the meat must be at least 48 hours or 72 hours for hindquarter cuts. Products that can be labeled "as derived" from the PGI "Irish Grass Fed Beef" are: composite meats containing 100% Irish Grass Fed Beef and a minimum of 90% lean meat; first choice offal (cheek, tail, leg and tongue) from qualified categories of "Irish Grass Fed Beef" cattle.

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EFA News - European Food Agency