The National Sheep Association (NSA) has rejected findings from a recent World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report that claims the traditional Welsh dish of lamb cawl has been found to be the most polluting of a range of classic British meals.

The report titled ‘Food in a Warming World’ includes findings from a study in which WWF investigated four iconic meals; Chicken Tikka Masala, Fish and Chips, Ploughman’s lunch and ‘lamb cawl / stew’ and the resulting carbon footprint associated with their production. According to the report the production of lamb causes a significantly higher release of greenhouse gases such as methane compared to the production of other ingredients leading to WWF labelling the meal the most damaging.

The report claims that production of lamb as an ingredient in cawl produces the equivalent level of greenhouse gas emissions as boiling a kettle 258 times or driving a car for 31 miles.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker responds: “NSA totally disputes these claims. We consider WWF is risking its credibility by trying to assess complex interactions through single lens and simplistic ways. This report confuses naturally occurring carbon cycles with industrial greenhouse gas emissions and ignores the role of pastures and soils and even wool as stable carbon stores.  

“WWF’s criticism of lamb cawl ignores the highly nutritious and balanced nature of this dish and the fact that it is in line with the advice given by many nutritionists to eat less but higher quality grass fed meat and to incorporate this with vegetables. 

 “It wasn’t long ago that cod stocks were dangerously low and this irresponsible report, if people were naïve enough to follow its advice, could disrupt stable and diverse food supplies.  

“Comparing meal options by (incomplete) carbon footprinting alone ignores all the other aspects that surround the production of any food and we know that sheep farming delivers a wide array of environmental and social outcomes that are highly valued by society, particularly in upland areas where extensive lamb production is key to maintaining the environment and local communities.”