A new initiative from European Beef and Pork has been launched to help give New Zealand consumers transparency over the food safety and ethical standards of the imported products.
In an age of growing consumer awareness about the way our food is produced, a production concept that assures animal welfare and safe preparation is being championed by the EU meat industry.
The European Union’s new farm-to-fork programme was created to assure the public that beef and pork has met high safety requirements and environmental and ethical manufacturing standards.
The main philosophy behind the concept is that consumers need to be able to easily trace where the meat on their plate came from. Ensuring animals have healthy lives, which significantly improves the quality of their meat, is another primary concern.
In a bid to reduce animal stress, the concept regulates transport as well as density, temperature and humidity, noise level and air circulation where animals are kept.
Imports of European pork into New Zealand resumed last year after an 11-year ban.
Reassuringly for New Zealand families, the use of hormones, growth stimulants and antibiotics is banned in EU beef and pork.
The farm-to-fork concept also protects consumer health, requiring the farming of pigs and cattle in the territory of the EU to be supervised by veterinary institutions. The health of animals is monitored, and the meat of animals is also subject to veterinary checks.
Further ensuring the safety of EU beef and pork, sanitary packaging processes are strictly regulated. Polystyrene trays with stretch foil, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and vacuum packaging effectively prevent meat from drying. These measures also prevent bacterial growth, guaranteeing the freshness and proper colour of the meat.
In its most innovative measure, the concept requires all EU beef and pork products to be labelled with the name of the producer, batch number and the use by date – which means consumers know exactly where their food has come from. Lack of interruption of the cold chain must be confirmed with a note in a report.
The farm-to-fork concept means that each stage of the production of beef, pork and their products is transparent. Full traceability of the product’s history, the quality of animal feed, as well as strict veterinary and sanitary supervision over meat production are all important elements of shaping the quality of European beef and pork – giving consumers full confidence in the safety of their meal.