The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) has claimed that beef from Brazil and other countries is being sold as Irish.

The Association instigated tests on 53 beef samples taken from wholesalers, hotels, restaurants and shops. Trinity College's Identigen Laboratories carried out the tests from samples supplied by the IFA which were taken under controlled conditions between August and September of this year.

It said that 15 samples were found to be from Zebu cattle. This breed is only found in Brazil or other non-EU countries. As the Zebu breed is not suited to conditions in Europe, and has never been identified in Identigen's database of quarter of a million cattle, it is thought impossible that cross-breeding is to blame, reported the Irish Independent.

Twelve of the outlets in question were claiming their beef was Irish, causing concern about product integrity and consumer choice. Brazilian beef generally retails at prices 20-25% below Irish beef.

Just one of the companies named in the IFA report admitted to selling the Brazilian beef as Irish. The Kilmurray Lodge Hotel, in County Limerick, said it was horrifed as the hotel believed all its beef was, in fact, Irish.

The Irish Hotels Federation criticised the IFA report, saying that hoteliers were not given a sample to have independently verified. The IFA was described as going about its investigation in a 'clandestine' and 'unscientific' manner.