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Low Carbon Beef

When it comes to setting the standards very low, Low Carbon Beef wins the prize. This US-based certification scheme provides an opportunity for beef producers to claim their beef is a lower carbon option in the meat isle of the supermarket as long as they can prove a mere 10% GHG emissions reduction in their production system.

However, their baseline is set at 26.3 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents (per kilogram of carcass weight), a full 5kg over the US average (a 2019 study of beef production in the US suggests the average is 21.3 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents per kilogram of carcass weight). A 10% reduction for farms emitting that much per carcass, wouldn’t even put them at the average US emissions, let alone at a ‘low’ level.

Their website indicates that farmers could achieve this through feed additives, usage of biofuels, manure management, and efficiency in the production system (feed and maturity of cows, for example). The certification also promotes itself as a good way for beef producers to boost their ESG ratings (k’ching!). The founders of this scheme feel optimistic that the emissions reductions from this programme can some day reach 50% and, if carbon sequestration is applied to the production system, it may be possible to have full neutrality (100% reduction of GHG emissions). While this certification scheme has been approved by USDA, scientists have expressed concerns about how this label can be misleading for consumers. Beef has one of the biggest carbon footprints from all food products and having a label that calls this product ”low carbon” is highly misleading.


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