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Dawn Meats, working in partnership with Edinburgh-based tech firm everysite and food industry solutions provider Hellenic Systems, have implemented an Integrated Checker service for verifying supplier Red Tractor assurance claims for Beef. The new integration means Dawn Meats can demonstrate it checks the Red Tractor 90 day rule for each individual animal by directly querying the Red Tractor database, securely and in real time, saving time and preventing costly errors.

The system works by scanning the animal passport at the lairage and ensures that all farms listed on the passport are checked for Red Tractor Assurance status in a real time ‘look up’ to the everysite Integrated Checker service. The Hellenic implementation of the service also checks the assurance status of markets each animal has passed through, adding further resilience to the verification of assurance claims being made by suppliers.

The service helps ensure that individual customer requirements for a maximum number of movements in the chain can be easily verified. This is an important step forward in helping reduce the risk of food fraud as recommended by recent Elliott Review. In addition, new requirements in Clause 5.4.4 of the BRC Global Food Standard Issue 7 require abattoirs to check assurance claims where the Red Tractor logo is used on finished product packs. The Integrated Checker service now means it’s a painless process to demonstrate compliance with Red Tractor, BRC and customer standards.

Current Red Tractor rules for beef cattle require animals to have been on an assured farm for at least the previous 90 days. Until now the only way to check Red Tractor Assurance for each animal has been to check all farms and markets that each individual animal has been on through the Red Tractor Assurance web site. This is a manual, time consuming, error prone and laborious process.

everysite Business Development Director Jim Flynn said. “One of the issues the sector is experiencing is the amount of time, resource and hassle involved in ensuring that their supply chain assurance standards are up to scratch. Food businesses can often have full time staff manually checking supplier assurance status which is an unnecessary cost.”

The project was backed by Red Tractor who are keen to ensure their certification data is made available to the industry in a secure and reliable way. Philippa Wiltshire of Red Tractor commented “We are delighted that this service has been developed as the industry has been calling for a quick and accurate electronic way to verify the Red Tractor assurance status of animals for a number of years. Our recent consultation on Lifetime Assurance for Beef highlighted this type of system would be vital to support any future changes.”

Dawn Meats are already seeing the benefits of implementing the new service. Nick O’Toole, Dawn Meats UK IT Manager commented; “The new Integrated Checker service is saving us significant amounts of manpower checking assurance across five sites. It also helps us meet our customers’ supply chain requirements and those of the BRC Global Food Standard for proactively managing our supply chain.”

Terry Carter, Managing Director of Hellenic Systems Limited added; “We took the decision to integrate the Red Tractor service because it’s what our customer’s need. They can see the value of automating what is essentially a time consuming and error prone manual task. We are more than happy to support Dawn Meats and our other customers in this way and look forward to rolling the new feature out to those who need to check Red Tractor assurance.”

To find out more on how the Integrated Checker service can be implemented in your business contact everysite via their website at

Quality Food Awards 2015

Tuesday, 10 November 2015 14:40

The 36th Quality Food Awards were held at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel Park Lane on 5th November 2015 and were presented by chef, restaurateur and star of TV’s Sunday Brunch Simon Rimmer, with patissier and chocolatier Will Torrent.

Winner of the ‘Pork, Lamb and Other Joints’ category was awarded to Asda Butchers Selection Oak Smoked Boneless Beef Ribs as supplied by Dawn Meats. Another product of Dawn Meats recognised on the night was the ‘Highly Commended’ Asda Butchers Selection Mexican Fajita Style Beef Brisket with Jalapeno Cheese Sauce and Salsa.

The Quality Food Awards which celebrates and recognizes excellence in the UK’s food and drink industry, are recognised as one of the most respected awards for food and drink products on sale in the UK grocery outlets.

With a robust judging process comprising of a panel of over 150 food and drink experts from many different industry disciplines, every aspect of a product is taken into consideration – rewarding great flavours, high quality ingredients, excellent value for money and outstanding packaging.

Dawn Meats are delighted to have received Gold and Bronze awards at the 8th annual Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards, held as part of the Dingle Food Festival on 3rd October 2015. Over 2500 products were entered into this year’s competition to win Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards in over 90 food and drink categories. Products from Dawn Meats to receive awards were:

Gold  - Beef Stir Fry with Peppers
Bronze  - Lidl Half Lamb Leg

Blas na hÉireann, The Irish Food Awards, are the biggest blind tasting competition for quality Irish produce in Ireland, and the criteria on which the products are judged as well as the judging system itself, which was developed by Blas na hÉireann with the Food Science Dept of UCC, is now recognised as an industry standard. The awards are a fantastic opportunity to not only celebrate great Irish products, but also the local suppliers and the passionate individuals behind them.

Irish agriculture may contribute 32pc of Irish emissions, but agriculture worldwide contributes only 12pc, and no one is looking at Ireland's natural ability for carbon sequestration during beef production.

This year has already brought many challenges and opportunities for Irish agriculture. An industry with an annual output of €24bn employing over 150,000 people in Ireland, agriculture has played a pivotal role in leading the country's economic recovery and delivering a much-needed dose of national confidence.

After more than 30 years, the lifting of dairy quotas this year opened the door to increased export revenue and the potential for considerable job creation. Opportunities also continue to open up for Irish beef exports, with markets such as China and the United States lifting their bans on exports of Irish beef this year. The opportunities for the sector will continue to emerge as Ireland's association with quality, traceability and sustainability strengthens.

2015 has also been an important year in the global debate on the pace and effects of climate change. With the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris approaching in December, many critical issues will be debated in the months to come. COP21 will be an important conference, with a focus on achieving a new international agreement on the climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

At a national level, agriculture is a significant contributor to Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions. It accounts for approximately 32pc of our total emissions, a figure that underscores the role Irish agriculture plays in our economy. The Irish government has set out ambitious targets for further growth and development, so as to take full advantage of the opportunities for our industry. The challenge is to drive Irish export growth and feed a growing global population while respecting our environmental limits, not to mention legal obligations to reduce greenhouse gasses.

Irish agriculture has come under the spotlight of late as stakeholders examine ways to square this circle. There is the belief in some quarters that the objectives of initiatives like Food Harvest 2020 (which includes a target to increase beef production by 20pc) are incompatible with Ireland's legal greenhouse gas reduction obligations.

There is criticism of what some view as government rhetoric around emissions reductions and a lack of concrete proposals to achieve these. There is also a fear that attempts to protect "privileged sectors", such as agriculture, will result in unfair concessions for food producers and a disproportionate effect on other sectors of the economy. The blunt solution suggested by detractors is that Ireland should, as a responsible global citizen, reduce food production in order to meet the mandated emissions targets.

The truth is that Ireland's high rainfall combined with our grass-based feeding system makes for a sustainable beef production environment compared with other regions of the world. Within the European Union the average CO2 output per kilogram of beef is 22.1kg, whereas in Ireland it is 14pc lower at 19kg. Put simply, swapping an Irish cow for one somewhere else in Europe will actually increase the overall global carbon footprint, even if it helps Ireland hit emissions targets.

It is worth considering the broader sector context. While Irish agriculture contributes 32pc of total Irish emissions, agriculture worldwide contributes only 12pc, with energy production contributing 75pc. This gives an idea of the scale of the challenge facing us all.

Ireland also has a natural advantage in terms of carbon sequestration - the removal of carbon from the atmosphere and its long-term storage. The carbon released in the production of beef for example, is offset by that carbon being stored by the grassland, soils and forestry on Irish farms. Our climate is naturally ideal for grass production, and carbon sequestration should be taken into account when looking at national emissions - currently it is not.

Reducing emissions is important, and at Dawn we have made huge efforts to address the environmental sustainability of our business. We introduced a group sustainability plan in 2009 which made core commitments to reduce our environmental footprint including: a 50pc reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020; a 40pc reduction in water and energy use by 2020; and a 50pc increase in recycling of waste by the end of this year.

To date, we have achieved annual water savings of 56m litres and reduced thermal energy consumption by 50pc across all sites. Among the most ambitious projects to date has been our development of a seven-acre wetland and eco-park in Carroll's Cross, Co Waterford, a low-carbon effluent treatment method, improving biodiversity and also sequestering carbon. Carroll's Cross was also the site of our first fossil fuel-free plant in 2014 reducing our dependency on non-renewable energy and the associated carbon emissions.

Dawn Meats and many of our industry peers have supported and driven initiatives such as Bord Bia's Origin Green programme which is helping Irish food producers demonstrate to international customers the verifiable achievements being made to ensure supply chain sustainability. The industry has recognised and advocated the importance of a proactive, innovative approach from an early stage.

Origin Green is a global first, with Ireland taking a leadership role in making a commercial virtue of climate-smart agriculture. Irish food producers continue to take huge steps in this area, and given the collective goal of reducing global emissions it would be an exercise in futility to reduce Irish beef production to meet emissions targets, and shift production to less-sustainable production systems overseas.

There is a tendency to view sustainability purely in terms of carbon emissions. Whilst measurements like these are important, sustainable production should be viewed in a more holistic way, recognising the benefits that it can bring to the Irish economy, at a national level, and in towns and villages all around the country.

Finally we need to consider the global food security threat that we face, with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) forecasting a 50pc increase in food demand by 2030. Few would dispute the urgency of the emissions reduction challenge facing Ireland and countries all over the world. It is important, however, that sustainability should take into account the significant contribution to addressing this challenge that Ireland's rich and varied agri-business sector is making in an environmentally responsible way.

We also need to remind ourselves that any drop in food production in this country will quickly be filled by other, less-sustainable locations.

Dawn Meats has been awarded 10 stars at this year’s Great Taste Awards, including a 3-gold star for our very own ‘West Country Choice Tomahawk Steak’ as announced by the Guild of Fine Foods. Put forward for even more scrutiny from 40 high profile food experts, it was agreed that our ‘West Country Choice Tomahawk Steak’ also deserved a place among the Top 50 Foods list of 2015.
The Top 50 Foods list, which has been whittled down from 10,000 entries by the most experienced and professional food judges, can now be viewed on

Other products from Dawn Meats to achieve gold star status include:

2-Star - Ridings Reserve Extra Matured Flat Iron Steak
2-Star - Ridings Reserve Salt Marsh Lamb French Rack Cap-On
2-Star - Ridings Reserve Salt Marsh Lamb Chump
1-Star - Ridings Reserve Salt Marsh Lamb Striploin

As one of the world’s largest blind-tasted food awards the Great Taste Awards are widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality fine food and drink. Recognised as a stamp of excellence among consumers and retailers alike, Great Taste values taste above all else, with branding and packaging ignored. Each product is blind tasted, the judges then savour, confer and re-taste to decide which products are worthy of a 1-, 2- or 3-star award. Receiving 10 stars from the Great Taste further verifies Dawn Meats as a producer of products that are exceptional in quality and outstanding in taste.

This year saw over 10,000 entries judged by a 400 strong judging panel of the nation’s most discerning and respected food experts. Only 130 products have been awarded 3-star gold, including our very own ‘West Country Choice Tomahawk Steak’. To receive a 3-star rating, every judge at each judging session, had to unanimously agree that the food delivered exceptional quality and taste.

A panel of judges including Masterchef judge and restaurant critic Charles Campion, TV presenter and cook, Aggie Mackenzie, Great British Bake Off winner, Frances Quinn, Masterchef the Professionals finalist, Adam Handling, food buyers from Harrods, Selfridges, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer, and chefs including James Golding, Chef Director of The Pig hotel group, tasted their way through the entries. They re-judged and tasted yet again the 3-star winners to finally agree on the 2015 Top 50 Foods, the Golden Fork Trophy winners as well as the 2015 Supreme Champion.

The team of judges had the following comments to make on our ‘West Country Choice Tomahawk Steak’: “A beautiful piece of beef with wonderful fat running through the grain. Good depth of flavour, but also very delicate”. “Very good-looking piece of meat, with a good amount of fat. The meat is succulent and juicy, the fat is creamy. The flavour is light and very pleasant, really delicate and exciting”.

The final announcement of the winner of Great Taste Supreme Champion 2015, sponsored by Harrods, and the regional Golden Fork Awards will be made in London on Monday the 7th of September.


Why is Grass Fed Irish Food Unique?

Tuesday, 04 August 2015 09:57

by Dr. Vanessa Woods, Agri Aware

With a greater focus on healthy eating and food provenance for a growing world population, to reach nine billion people by 2050, food awareness and education, right back to the farm, is of increasing interest and importance to the consumer.

We hear a lot about the benefits of grass-fed produce in Ireland. We also hear about how the food that comes from grass-fed animals has a unique flavour, colour and taste and why it allows Irish produce to be in huge demand across the globe. However, does the consumer really know what it is about grass-fed produce that is so special and unique?

Some 80% of Ireland is covered in grass and our cattle graze this grass for up to 300 days each year. It is only during the colder winter period, when the grass stops growing, that our animals are housed. When they are housed, the main feed offered is grass silage, with some meal. As such, the food that comes from Irish cattle and sheep is said to be predominantly produced from grass.

In some countries, animals can spend a lot of their time in intensive feedlots. In Ireland, our animals graze the lush green pastures for the majority of their life. This is their natural environment where they express their natural behaviour, which is of paramount importance to both farmers who produce the food and consumers who eat it. This is what makes grass-fed Irish food so unique.

Indeed, the important attributes of grass-fed produce do not stop there, because grass is naturally rich in a number of healthy nutrients. We all know that omega-3 fatty acids are healthy and we often purchase supplements or food that is fortified with omega-3 for this reason, often at a significant premium, but what about omega-3 fatty acids and CLA-Conjugated Linoleic Acid, from grass-fed produce? Conjugated Linoleic Acid or CLA, is known as an essential fatty acid that is found in ruminant (beef, cow and sheep) products, such as meat and milk. It is referred to as ‘essential’, because we have to get these fatty acids from our food, as our bodies cannot manufacture them.

If we compare grass-fed meat for example, to grain-fed meat, research shows that grass-fed meat has higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and CLA. Meat contains a mixture of fatty acids in the fat, and many of these are considered healthy fats. As such, eating grass-fed produce can make a contribution to our requirement for these ‘essential’ fatty acids.

Furthermore, grass-fed produce is also rich in beta-carotene, which is a precursor to Vitamin A. Vitamin A is required for growth and development in humans, the maintenance of our immune system and good vision. Grass-fed meat and butter has a unique colour, flavour and appearance due to beta-carotene coming from the grass. This is why Irish butter, such as the famous Kerrygold, has a yellow colour, compared to a more white coloured butter that you might find in other countries, where the cows are not pasture-fed.

Another important nutrient that we all need in our diet is Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant. Research has shown that grass-fed animals have higher levels of Vitamin E compared to grain-fed animals.

The next time you eat Irish butter, admire the colour and flavour and know why it has this unique colour and taste. When you next eat grass-fed Irish meat or dairy, you will know why we are so fortunate to have this unique product on our doorstep, because our grass-fed produce is natural and special and this is why it is in demand all over the world.

Professor Paddy Wall, Professor of Public Health in UCD, stresses that our health is our most valuable asset. He says “a healthy diet is essential, yet some people can sometimes give little thought to what they eat. An investment in your health is an investment in your future. We regularly talk about the ‘green image of Ireland’, but it is not an image, it is a reality that we have ‘forty shades of green’ and our grass produced meat and dairy products are special”.


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Mr Doug Keatinge
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