NOBULL: Roundtable defines sustainable beef

Roundtable defines sustainable beef

By Rita Jane Gabbett on 3/17/2014

The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef has issued for public comment a document that sets out to define the principles and criteria that constitute beef produced in a sustainable way.

The definitions and criteria are purposefully broad and meant to be interpreted and implemented regionally to accommodate the broad range of ecosystems in which beef is produced.

“GRSB defines sustainable beef as a socially responsible, environmentally sound and economically viable product that prioritizes our planet, people, the animals, and continuous progress,” said Cameron Bruett, president of the GRSB and head of corporate affairs at JBS USA, in a statement.

The group defined the five sustainable beef principles as:

1. Natural Resource: Global sustainable beef stakeholders produce beef in a manner that identifies and manages natural resources responsibly and maintains or enhances the health of ecosystems.

2. People and Community: Global sustainable beef stakeholders protect and respect human rights and recognize the critical roles that all participants within the beef value chain play in their community regarding culture, heritage, employment, land rights and health.

3. Animal Health and Welfare: Global sustainable beef stakeholders respect and manage animals to ensure their health and welfare.

4. Food: Global sustainable beef stakeholders ensure the safety and quality of beef products and utilize information-sharing systems that promote beef sustainability.

5. Efficiency and Innovation: Global sustainable beef stakeholders encourage innovation, optimize production, reduce waste and add to economic viability.

The document goes on to explain, “GRSB does not intend to set standards or to create a certification program but to provide a common baseline understanding of sustainable beef that national roundtables and other initiatives can use to meet their needs… GRSB has agreed that the next steps will include the development of more regional-specific indicators, but that we will not develop a seal, certification or comparable standard for sustainable beef.”

Membership in the Global Roundtable includes over 40 processors, producers, civil society constituents, retailers, foodservice operators and observing members. The Roundtable was established in late 2012. Founding members included McDonald’s, World Wildlife Federation, Walmart, Cargill, JBS, Elanco, Merck and Solidaridad.

In January McDonald’s declared it would begin sourcing sustainable beef products in 2016.

(Editor’s note: For a more in-depth analysis of the move toward sustainable beef and what it will mean for the beef processing industry watch for our story in the April issue of Meatingplace In Print.)