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French Set Out New Assurance Measures

31 May 2013

FRANCE - The French government has put forward proposals to prevent future scandals such as the contamination of beef products with horse meat that occurred earlier this year.

The proposals follow a meeting of the government and meat industry and farming representatives last week.

The aim of the meeting was to restore consumer confidence and trust in meat products on the supermarket shelf.

The goal was also to ensure that a similar fraud does not happen again and a number of concrete measures to reassure consumers including origin and traceability meats have been put in place.

The government has invited representatives of the meat sector to workshops on the themes of increased consumer information, self-checking, the quality of raw materials and the promotion of the origin of the meat.

Food minister Guillaume Garot and consumer minister Benoit Hamon, presented the initial findings of the working groups at the meeting last week.

The groups have called for support for voluntary information on the origin of existing meat such as Pig Meat France (FFT), French Beef (VBF) French poultry meat and the development of a country of origin label for sheep meat and horse meat for France.

The working groups also called on the government for a commitment to defend at European level, country of origin labelling of meats including processed products, as requested by the agricultural profession, FNSEA Specialised Associations and Young Farmers.

They have also called for the establishment of an anti-fraud charter tool available to businesses to help them with food fraud detection over the nature of the meat products used. The charter is based on a voluntary basis and aims to provide companies with guidance on a range of simple controls to perform when receiving products, which could be strengthened if fraud is suspected on the basis of various indicators (monitoring results at reception, and the comparative price level compared to the rest of the market, etc..).

They have also called for greater harmonisation of codes used to describe meat products and their composition and the maintenance of a high level of control over the meat and fish industries and the strengthening of financial penalties for fraud proved.

Another meeting to update on the progress of the proposals is expected in September.

However, the French farmers’ union FNSEA said these findings are disappointing, because by definition they focus on the goodwill of the companies and a voluntary code.

"focusing on by definition dependent on the goodwill of companies and brands voluntary approaches, either on consumer information or the fight against fraud.

“ The challenge is twofold: to reassure consumers about the origin of the meat used in the composition of many processed products, and contribute to the sustainability of animal production in our sector,” the FNSEA said.

“The battle is far from over and the vigilance of the FNSEA on this issue is at its peak.”

TheMeatSite News Desk

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