DNA Testing Aberdeen Angus

Industry experts propose new scheme for confirming Aberdeen Angus Beef integrity


Many experts and veterans who are involved in the supply chain of Aberdeen Angus beef have made themselves vocal in regards to the origins and authenticity of the meat and the importance of DNA testing.

Aberdeen Angus beef has acquired an international reputation for top quality as well as a premium priced beef and experts say that further measures of origin and authenticity, proved by DNA testing, need to be carried out to maintain this quality and price.

DNA testing is the most current up to date way of economically confirming the integrity of the meat. The idea is to do the testing at every level from calf to carcass to have complete traceability for the consumer.

Experts from the industry have all put forward comments on the issue of DNA testing:

Willie McLaren; Veteran breeder from Netherton

“We need DNA testing of pedigree Angus if Aberdeen Angus beef is to continue to attract the premium prices it does at present.”

“Any breeder who is against such testing should be asking himself if he can continue to expect premiums of up to 30p-40p per deadweight KG for beef that has not been DNA sampled.”


Dr Johan De Meulemeester, from Allflex

“People now expect better guarantees about the meat they are eating and are willing to pay more for the origins of food.”


Steven McLean, Head of Agriculture and Fisheries sourcing for Marks and Spencer’s

Mr McLean stated that for customer perception to be improved both origin and authenticity needs to be proved but also eating quality. He strongly advocated the use of DNA testing to protect the brand in the eyes of the consumer in the long run.

Marks and Spencer’s is looking to form a partnership with stakeholders of the Aberdeen Angus beef industry to guarantee an increased eating quality for customers.


Marks and Spencer’s:

  • Buys 500 Aberdeen Angus carcases each week
  • Accounts for 12% of all steak sales in UK
  • Has been selling Aberdeen Angus beef for 25 years


Mr McLean made a speech at the Aberdeen Angus World Forum conference in Edinburgh:

“This is the 25th year we have been selling Aberdeen Angus beef and we want to improve on our market share, but to do that we need to work harder with a science-based approach to delivering quality.”

“Science has to be involved to prove traceability and authenticity, but with these systems now embedded, we also have the opportunity to use gene marker technology to drive real quality and step-change the breed.”

“We know that if we keep on doing what we have always done, we will not be good enough, so we have to look forward and restructure.”


Mr McLean noted that carcases have been DNA tested for the last four years by M&S and the results indicated that the origins of the meat are not always 100% Aberdeen Angus beef.


Mr McLean acknowledged that the scheme would not suit everybody in the industry but economies of scale could be used and production efficiency measures could be taken to make it desirable and profitable for everyone.


Mr McLean concluded:

We are convinced that Aberdeen Angus beef demand will increase year on year. To match this increase in demand we need the correct genetics, feeding, processing and chilling processes. The three main factors driving us to improve the product and meet these are:

  • Accurate traceability
  • Increase eating quality
  • Providing a superior product

We are committed to Aberdeen Angus beef as a product and will continue to be.

Written by Matthew Weininger

Writing for Agrismart whilst completing a degree in Agri-Business
Management at Newcastle University.