Certain meat-based foods sold in supermarkets in the European Union are not properly labelled or do not contain accurate information about their ingredients – says Brussels based consumer lobby group – the European Consumers Organisation.
In light of the horse-meat scandal in 2013, the group – that call themselves the voice of the European consumer in Brussels – carried out tests in 7 EU member states including the UK. Their report, Close up on the meat we eat, suggests confusing product names, incomplete labels and the use of illegal food additives are evident in a range of meat-based foods. Their research shows that certain croquettes contain half the quantity of meat stated on the label, sometimes sulphites are used to make beef look redder and fresher and chicken is sometimes being sold as veal in kebabs.
For Monique Goyens, the director general at the European Consumers Organisation, consumers deserve honest labels as consumers have no other option than to rely on labels when food shopping.
For food policy expert, Camille Perrin, it is also the responsibility of the consumer to carefully check what they are buying. If not, manufacturers may trick consumers, she fears. Perrin hopes the report will help make sure the problems identified are addressed and tackled at national and EU level.
But with the financial crisis and cutbacks in areas like mystery shopping and food inspection, the message of the European Consumers Organisation may fall on deaf ears in EU member states.