Meat processors body the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) has made it clear the high standards it operates to are not to be used as bargaining chips in any post-Brexit trade deal.
The organisation has insisted red meat production, processing and retailing must be fully protected against any health, welfare and environmental compromises.
SAMW president Andy McGowan said: "While we welcome assurances being given by the UK Government that all future food imports will comply with the UK’s high safety standards as they seek to establish new global trading relationships, any similar assurances in relation to animal welfare, health or environmental protection are conspicuously absent.
“Throughout the past 30 years, and more, our industry has embraced high standards of quality assurance at every point in the supply chain, establishing procedures and practices which are now firmly embedded in our industry.
He also pointed out no artificial growth hormones were used in the UK, while the use of antibiotics for anything other than essential health treatment under veterinary supervision had been banned for many years.
He called for these issues to be ‘fully addressed and nailed’ down immediately.
The alternative was a sector put at economic risk while consumers were left with an ‘import-driven supply chain which was neither controlled nor controllable by the UK Government’.
Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) took a similar stance, highlighting Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb’s coveted European protected geographical indication status which has been in place since 1996.
Meanwhile, the Specially Selected Pork label ensures high welfare standards with the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals inspecting each farm annually.
QMS chairwoman Kate Rowell said: “Scotland pioneered the way for whole-of-life and whole-of-supply chain quality assurance, meaning the farm, haulier, auction mart, feed merchant and processor are all quality assured to high-quality production methods.”
According to a recent survey by Unison/Savanta ComRes, four-fifths (81 per cent) of the British public have concerns about meat quality standards being relaxed post-Brexit.