Producing and distributing food – guidance

Set up a traceability system for beef and veal

Food business operators bound by the Compulsory Beef Labelling Scheme must keep traceability records to show the origin of their meat.

Businesses handling meat must have a traceability system. The exact form of the system varies, depending on the activity of the business, but it will be based on a set of continually updated records, which you can keep either manually or on computer. It may well include other documentation, such as delivery notes or receipts.

This system ensures that beef on sale to customers can be traced back to the animal or group of animals it came from.

Record basic traceability information

The principle of a traceability system is that for each intake of beef or veal into your business, you must make a record that shows:

  • information about where you got the meat from, including the reference number or code on the label (eg the kill number of an animal at an abattoir or the batch number of a batch of meat supplied by a cutting plant)
  • information about the meat’s origin and slaughter (part of the compulsory labelling information that goes with the meat throughout the supply chain)
  • the reference number or code you put on the label, if it’s different to the supplier’s number or code (eg if you combine meat from different sources under the rules for batching)

For animals aged less than 12 months, abattoirs must record (and other businesses may record):

  • the animal’s date of birth
  • the animal’s identification number (a unique number eg the ear tag number)

Other information to record

You should record:

  • the date of arrival of each animal, carcase, part carcase, primal or other cut of meat
  • the date of departure of the meat (or date placed on the counter)

This will ensure that there is a balance between arrivals and departures.

The other information required for your traceability system will depend on the nature of your business. You could also record some or all of the following:

  • the supplier
  • delivery note
  • kill date and kill number
  • weight
  • UK ear tag/cattle passport number or reference code
  • product (cut)
  • tray number or colour
  • for animals under 12 months, date of birth and/or carcase category identification letter (V for animals aged less than 8 months, Z for animals aged from 8 months to less than 12 months)

Other traceability requirements

Your traceability control systems may need to accommodate the requirements of other schemes and standards for which you are enrolled, such as those for: