The labels on the meat products are not always faithful to the content and can be misleading, warning Wednesday The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC).
The association, which is a member of Test-Achats, recommends public authorities to more strictly apply European rules so that European consumers can have confidence again in the labeling, after the scandal of horse meat.
“All meat products sold in the EU are not properly labeled or do not contain the right ingredients,” concludes BEUC based on a compilation of tests conducted between April 2014 and August 2015 member associations in seven European countries (Belgium, Portugal, Netherlands, Italy, Czech Republic, UK, Spain).
The names on the labels are sometimes used to sell products to consumers of lower quality advertised. This is the case in Belgium, for example, with US net prepared which would normally contain at least 70% beef, but this obligation is bypassed, calling “prepared” or “prepared the chef” in a preparation which has been increased the proportion of pork.
BEUC is also concerned that the percentage of meat contained in preparations, such as kebabs, sometimes is not indicated or is incorrect. The water added to the preparation beyond 5% is also not always specified. Test-Achats has noted this omission for “pork medallions” sold in Belgium.
The labeling also takes advantage of the gray area of European law between the products or meat preparations, only the latter can contain additives such as nitrates or sulphites.
A list of deceptions found on the labels adds the lack of reference to mechanically separated meat carcasses, and therefore of lower quality, or to lamb meat substitute or calf by poultry.
Consumers should be able to decide when buying based on “honest, fair and complete” labels, claims Monique Goyens, BEUC Director-General. “It is not because a product is cheap that the label must be misleading. You pay for meat, not for water!”
The association requires labeling to better monitor the Member States by carrying out more frequent checks with the manufacturers to ensure that they respect EU legislation, including the presence of water or additives.
“It is now so easy to cheat, so why stop?” Summarizes Ms Goyens. “Member States must implement the rules, but also to the European Commission to establish a framework and work with the authorities to strengthen controls”, she still recommends.
The executive should also clarify legal definitions of products or meat preparations to end the unscrupulous practices of the industry. New legislative proposals on Nitrates in food are also expected next year.