Skip to content
The article is more than 13 years old

Food Safety Watchdog Stewing over Meat Product Labels

The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira and the food industry have locked horns over the labelling of fresh meat products. The stew has been brewing over so-called natural raw meat products, which look like 100 percent meat, but which may include countless other ingredients.

Asiakasnostaa lihapakettia kaupan hyllystä.
Image: YLE

Back in May, when Finns were beginning to heat up their grills in expectation of the summer grill season, Evira dispatched a strongly-worded letter to the meat giants Atria, HK and Saarioinen, expressing its disapproval of the method of marketing so-called “natural” meat products, in which the percentage of meat may be around 80 percent, but not 100 percent.

“Evira has been contacted about this, and there have been writings in which consumers have complained about purchasing meat in the belief that it was natural, only to find out that there were other ingredients that don’t form part of any natural product,” explained Evira’s Chief Inspector Tytti Itkonen.

Seppo Heiskanen, head of the Research and Legal Unit of the Finnish Food and Drink Industries Association, which represents the interests of the large meat processing companies, says the industry is not concerned about charges of misleading consumers.

“I don’t believe that very many consumers are paying attention to this. At least our understanding is that there are very few, and the information is that there has been very little consumer feedback or questions about this. In any case, the package labels clearly list what the product contains,” Heiskanen declared.

Evira Wants More Visible Labels

It’s not easy to see the difference between 100 percent chicken and chicken that is only 80 percent meat. However, the difference is clear on the labels.

But Evira says that’s not enough. The food safety watchdog wants explicit labels on products that are not 100 percent meat. It’s an idea that sticks in the throats of the food preparation industry.

So what’s the difference that makes up the twenty-odd percent of product that’s not really meat? Very often it’s a saline mixture injected into the meat tissue, says Seppo Heiskanen.

When asked if the meat is injected to make it look more appetising, he responds, “It’s not necessarily done to make the cuts look plumper. It’s more a question of improving the texture, its shelf life and so on.”

Heiskanen rejected the notion of meat producers intentionally injected meat products with saline solution to make them better looking.

“That’s not the main objective,” he added.

Sources: YLE

Latest: paketissa on 10 artikkelia