Burvill: Industry must refute 'fake meat' claims

SA producer, restaurateur calls for stronger labelling laws against 'fake meat'

Beef
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Australia's red meat industry must learn from the mistake of the dairy industry and protect the word meat from being used by laboratory-grown substitutes through better labelling laws.

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ACTION NEEDED: Beef producer and restaurateur Tim Burvill says the red meat industry must push for stronger labelling laws to ensure consumers are not misled by fake meat claims.

ACTION NEEDED: Beef producer and restaurateur Tim Burvill says the red meat industry must push for stronger labelling laws to ensure consumers are not misled by fake meat claims.

Australia's red meat industry must learn from the mistake of the dairy industry and protect the word meat from being used by laboratory-grown substitutes through better labelling laws.

That was the strong message from South East beef producer and restaurateur Tim Burvill at the Livestock SA southern region meeting at Lucindale last week, where he was the guest speaker.

"The dairy industry didn't fight and now you have soy milk and almond milk which are just flavoured waters and shouldn't be called milk," he said.

'We don't want a situation where people go to a supermarket and buy meat and ask is it from a lab or is it from a farm?"

Mr Burvill said it was very disconcerting to see on the ABC TV Foreign Correspondent how advanced fake meat was in the United States and the millions of dollars being poured into it.

Therefore, it was important Australia acted now to prevent these imitations using terms such as meat and beef so consumers were clear about what they were buying.

Mr Burvill and wife Sarah own a 'paddock to plate' business with their Danish business partner Lars Damgaard, with a property at Lucindale and A Hereford Beefstouw restaurants in Adelaide and Melbourne.

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They also export their Australian dry aged beef to Denmark where Mr Damgaard has 15 restaurants that welcome more than 700,000 customers a year.

Mr Burvill says the industry has done a "very poor job" calling out inaccurate claims by the anti-meat movement and it was time peak industry bodies began refuting these untruths based on science.

"A lot of people honourably think they are doing the right thing for the planet by not eating meat so you can't have a go at them if they think they are doing the right thing," he said.

We don't want a situation where people go to a supermarket and buy meat and ask 'Is it from a lab or is it from a farm?' - TIM BURVILL

"We have to figure out what we have done wrong - people have come up with fictitious figures and that has been allowed to become the norm.

"How did cows get tarred with the brush of being the biggest greenhouse gas emitters?

"There are less cows in the world now than in 1975 but what we do have now is 7.7 billion people on the planet.

"That's compared to 4b people on the planet in 1975, so the human population has nearly doubled in 44 years.

"More people, more industry, our cities getting bigger and there is growing urbanisation - do you perhaps think that is what is causing the rise in greenhouse gas emissions?"

Mr Burvill also stressed the importance of the livestock industry changing the wider public's perception of farming and painting a more positive image rather than them only seeing producers down on their luck with drought.

Despite the threat from fake meat, he says the market signals are strong, especially with the fall in the Australian dollar.

He believes Australia is particularly well-placed to capitalise on the growing demand for grassfed beef, being the only country able to supply finished product year-round.

In the past couple of months Hereford Beefstouw's restaurants have been forced to include 150-day grainfed beef as they have not been able to secure enough marble score two grassfed beef but long-term Mr Burvill is convinced of the premiums for grassfed product.

Into the future Mr Burvill is convinced producers will be paid on meat quality but they needed to change their mindset from being sheep and cattle producers to "growing red meat".

His vision for the future was for Australia to be the "gold standard" in beef and lamb production with Meat Standards Australia and the existing quality assurance programs a great base to build from.

He also urged beef producers to buy bulls with high intramuscular fat figures with marbling the single largest contributor to tenderness.

"We have already started to see premiums for marble score and I think that is only the beginning because I know what I am paying for a box of marble score four scotch fillet it is $10 a kilogram to $14./kg more than a marble score zero (box)," he said.

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