One of the objectives of the KDF is to protect the natural and cultural assets of the Karoo against misappropriation and to make sure the people of the Karoo are able to extract value and a decent livelihood from exploiting, in a sustainable way, these assets. One of these well-known assets of the region is certainly “Karoo Lamb”. This name has unfortunately over the years been abused and falsely attributed to lamb from other regions.
One of the first achievements of the KDF was to act on the requests from the Karoo farmers and Karoo abattoirs to find a sensible way of protecting the name Karoo lamb. After many years of consultation with farmers and communities in the Karoo the KDF successfully registered a certification mark (Karoo Meat of Origin) and a protocol for a certification scheme in 2010/11. This made it possible that Karoo Lamb may only be called Karoo Lamb if it complies with the rules of certification. As a result of the initial work by the KDF the South African government could submit the certification rules to the EU, which enabled Karoo Lamb to be protected in the EU market after the new Free trade Agreement between the EU and South Africa, was signed in October 2016. The certification scheme was operated by the “Karoo Lamb Consortium”.
The certification mark did, unfortunately, not prevent other trademarks and quality marks to be registered using the Karoo Lamb words and indications. It was only until the Department of Agriculture published the regulations for ‘Geographical Indications in 2019 and amended in 2023, that it was possible to obtain public protection for the name “Karoo Lamb”.
In terms of regulations R.3023 of 10 February 2023 a group of producers can apply to the Department of Agriculture to register a Geographical indication (GI). These rules now made it possible for the Karoo Lamb Consortium to submit an application for the registration of Karoo Lamb as an official South African GI. The application and the supporting documents and empirical evidence was submitted and opened for public comment. No objections were received and on 27 October 2023 the Karoo Lamb GI was officially gazetted. Basically 15 years since members of the KDF joined the various teams to investigate the various options for protection.
Karoo Lamb now has its own law and is now on par with Rooibos, Champagne, Parma Ham and Parmigiana Reggiano and other famous food products with an origin identity.
Rules and Specifications of Karoo Lamb
The details of the rules for Karoo Lamb is available in the government gazettee of 27 October 2023 . The basic recipe is however very simple and signals the following:
- Lamb originates from the Karoo in that the sheep were born in the Karoo or raised in the Karoo region for at least six continuous months before slaughtering.
- Sheep grazed freely on natural veldt and were not raised in feedlots.
- The animals did not graze on permanent pastures six months before slaughtering.
- No growth hormones were used.
- Carcass classification
- Age classes A, AB
- Fat classes 1 to 6
- Carcass conformation 3 to 5
- The Code of Practice of Good Stockmanship and Animal Welfare Practices have been adhered to.
- Meat can be traced back to the farm of origin.
- Slaughtering and processing facilities comply with official food safety standards including HACCP.
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