Menu labels protect Scotch beef from imitations, says chef

PRIME Scotch beef should be better certified and labelled on restaurant menus to ensure diners enjoy the high-quality food they are paying for.

Chris Galvin, one of Britain’s leading chefs, said putting the provenance of beef on menus would deter “unscrupulous people” from charging top prices for inferior products.

Mr Galvin, who has just opened a top-quality restaurant in Harrods with his brother Jeff, also argued for more rigorous regulation, such as that provided by Quality Meat Scotland.

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The award-winning chef said: “Chefs and restaurateurs should hold their heads up and say ‘Yes we support this’. Why not? It is only unscrupulous people who would not want it.”

Mr Galvin is proud of the meat he uses on his menus and sends his waiters out to farms so they can tell customers where the food they serve comes from.

Despite much progress in detecting fake products, Mr Galvin is convinced more regulation, with government backing, would help deter rogue traders.

He points to France, where the Label Rouge stamp is hard to earn and keep.

Mr Galvin believes that more regulation would enable small-scale producers to compete on a more level playing field with big companies because strict certification would improve the credentials of their products. He said: “In France, it is better regulated. They have food police who knock on the back door.

“This is why I like Quality Meat Scotland, because you never know when they are going to turn up – it is tough but we want to be part of that.”

Mr Galvin believes that the government could do more. He said: “We don’t want any more paper – we have so much regulation. However, things that we should fight for are small farmers and small fishermen... we could lose them.”

Mr Galvin is lending his support to the Quality Meat Scotland “Great Quality of Life, Great Quality of Taste” campaign.

The campaign comes after research indicated the market for Scotch beef was enjoying success as the biggest selling Scottish food and drink brand in Great Britain, with sales totalling £247 million.

He said that top quality beef was worth paying a bit extra for and consumers could “eat a bit less but better quality”. He added: “We shouldn’t be paying a lot of money for mass produced rubbish.”

The Quality Meat Scotland campaign, which encourages consumers to cook with, locally sourced produce, is focusing on Scotland and Greater London.

Celebrity chef Brian Turner said: “Scotch Beef has always been one of the world leaders in quality produce.

“In my opinion it still has that reputation and, as an Englishman, a roast rib of beef on the bone is what makes Great Britain so great.”

Laurent Vernet, Head of Marketing at Quality Meat Scotland said: “This is great news for Scottish farmers and suppliers and having such esteemed culinary talents such as Brian, Chris and Jeff behind the latest phase in our campaign is hugely encouraging.”