New laws requiring restaurants and other catering outlets in Scotland to label the country of origin of beef on their menus has been labelled "perverse" by the British Hospitality Association (BHA).
Unveiling the statutory regulations last week, Ross Finnie, the environment minister, said consumers were "frankly staggered" to find menus can tempt customers with an "Aberdeen Angus" steak without having to reveal that it is in fact flown in from South America.
Under European regulations, supermarkets and other retailers are already required to tell shoppers where pure beef cuts come from.
However, Finnie said confusion remains over where beef served in restaurants is sourced. He wants to bring Scotland into line with other countries such as Ireland and France where the requirement applies to all food outlets.
But Gavin Ellis, chairman of BHA Scotland, said the legislation was "fundamentally flawed".
"It is a perverse decision that takes no account of the difficulties - and cost - of implementing it," he said.
"Statutory regulations will be very impractical to implement - and impossible in some cases - because suppliers do not always provide caterers with information about the origin of beef.
"Nor will beef on pre-printed menus - printed once a year by most chain restaurant groups- always be available from the stated country of origin when it is prepared and cooked. In busy kitchens, beef may be sourced from different counties of origin and may not be separated," Ellis added.
The BHA believes that caterers who are keen to label the origin of their meat should be encouraged to do so as a marketing tool, but said should not be a regulatory requirement.
By Daniel Thomas
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