Food: More information about the origin of the steak

Food: More information about the origin of the steak

In the refrigerated counters, consumers now have a broader overview of which country a piece of meat comes from. In general, there will be more to come with labeling in the near future.

When buying meat in supermarkets and butchers, customers have more clarity about where the steaks and schnitzels come from. From this Thursday onwards, information on the country of origin of the animals is mandatory for additional meat products, as stated in a regulation by Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens).

The consumer advice centers welcome the expansion, but are calling for even further steps, for example for canteens and restaurants. Information about the living conditions that animals once had in stables will soon also be updated on familiar labels.

Various labels and seals can already be seen on meat packaging in the refrigerated shelves. Many consumers are very interested in where food comes from. 82 percent consider information about the origin of products to be important or very important, according to a recently presented survey commissioned by the ministry. Özdemir is now regulating the expansion of labeling nationally after a promised EU solution failed to materialize.

The markings

– In supermarkets, butchers, farm shops and weekly markets, mandatory labeling of the country of origin will also be extended to unpackaged meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry. This applies to packaged goods, as well as to unpackaged beef.

– The country of rearing and slaughter must be indicated using small signs on the goods or on screens. So for example: “Raised in: France. Slaughtered in: Germany,” as the ministry explained. If birth, rearing and slaughter were in a single country, it can be said “Origin: Germany”.

– If meat of the same origin is predominantly sold, a general note in the store is sufficient. So, for example, a clearly visible notice: “All of our pork in the counter comes from Germany.”

Close further gaps

The head of the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv), Ramona Pop, told the German Press Agency that consumers are interested in the country of origin and also the regional origin. Expanding labeling is therefore a step in the right direction. However, further gaps would have to be closed. “The origin of the meat should also be labeled for processed foods such as sausage or salami pizza.”

In addition, the indications of origin should be extended to catering and communal catering in canteens and cafeterias. Consumers should be able to tell from the menu where the meat on their plate comes from, said Pop. The ministry is already eyeing an expansion to the catering industry. The government is planning to vote on a draft in the spring, as a spokesman recently said.

Özdemir argues that with the indications of origin, consumers can support regional value creation and also high environmental and animal welfare standards. However, not everyone draws such a direct conclusion. Consumer advocate Pop said: “The labeling of origin can allow conclusions to be drawn about better husbandry and production conditions if animal, environmental and occupational safety standards are raised significantly in this country.” Then farmers would also have an actual locational advantage.

Five category system

In addition to the origin, many customers are also interested in how the animals are kept. This summer, a widespread label used by large supermarket chains will be aligned with the future state animal husbandry logo. “This makes it easier for consumers that there are five uniform levels,” said Özdemir at the Green Week agricultural trade fair in Berlin. Both labels should therefore continue to be able to be used side by side without causing confusion due to contradictory information.

The voluntary “keeping system labeling” introduced in 2019 already applies to meat and processed pork, beef and poultry products. It currently has the numbers 1 to 4 on the labels for four levels with increasing requirements. Level 4 is “premium”. organic goods are also classified. The change is intended to divide them up and create a separate level 5 for organic. The state logo also has a system with five categories, which according to the law will become mandatory for domestic products in 2025. It will initially be traded with pork start and then be expanded further.

Source: Stern

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