The European Union’s crackdown on food fraud must remain high on its agenda, according to a region-wide consumer organisation which has uncovered ongoing issues with dishonest labelling.
BEUC’s latest report found croquettes containing half the quantity of meat declared on the label, sulphites used to make minced beef look fresher, and chicken sold as veal in kebabs.
These, it said, were only a handful of the deceptive practices found.
Its findings show that many more improvements need to be made following the 2013 scandal in Europe in which beef adulterated with horse meat entered the human food chain.
The organisation said consumers had no option but to rely on food labels to help inform them in their purchasing decisions.
Based on tests carried out by seven BEUC member-organisations in recent months, the report reveals meat-based foods might not always live up to consumers’ expectations, when labels are not deliberately misleading them.
“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,” BEUC’s director general, Monique Goyens, said.
“Those purchasing fresh beef made to look as if it is 100% meat may feel deceived to discover additives in the ingredient list.
“Also, consumers buying roast pork or grilled sausages should know from the label how much meat they really contain. No one wants to buy water for the price of meat.”
BEUC has called for more checks on additives used in meat-based products.
It said food fraud must remain high on the EU’s agenda as the horse-meat scandal was not an isolated incident.