A new report by the European consumer watchdog BEUC, has highlighted a number of concerns it says still persist in the European meat industry. The report found that many meat products sold throughout the EU are often not labelled correctly or even contain a different meat entirely.

According to BEUC, this latest report reveals frequent cases of:

  • Confusing product names.
  • Incomplete labels which fail to highlight added water, for example, or which fail to declare the percentage of meat in the product.
  • Use of illegal food additives.
  • Use of undeclared mechanically separated meat.
  • Fraudulent use of other species as a substitute, eg turkey kebab sold as veal.
  • BEUC said that European consumers need to be able to trust the labels on the meat they buy, particularly with the 2013 horsemeat scandal still fresh in the mind. The consumer body recommends more frequent checks for accurate labelling, greater systematic checks on the addition of water in meats and that it’s properly declared on the label and greater emphasis from EU member states on controlling the types and amounts of food additives used.

    Legal definition

    BEUC is also calling for food fraud to be the top priority for the EU and is seeking a greater legal framework from the European Parliament to better detect, dissuade and punish food fraud. The report also recommends clarification of the legal definitions for meat preparation and product, with a view to removing some of the grey areas that still exist and allow “unscrupulous businesses to circumvent EU laws.”

    According to Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC, consumers will feel deceived if the report is not acted on.

    “Consumers should be able to trust the label on the food they buy. If we are serious about rebuilding confidence in meat, EU member states need to beef up controls and make sure labels are complete and accurate,” added Goyens.