Due to recent events, new laws requiring stricter food labeling are now being taken into consideration, with good reason.
What meat is in my lasagna and what kind of milk is this cheese made from?
If French consumers previously asked these questions very rarely, then after the big scandal in 2013 this kind of question has become standard.
Let’s briefly turn back the clock: three years ago the British sanitary authorities found horsemeat in lasagna produced by the French company Findus. It was not merely a few traces of horsemeat, but it was 60 or even 100% in each dish. At the same time “100 % beef” was written on the packaging.
An investigation took a lot of time and has led a very careful examining of every detail of the case. During this investigation many interesting things were revealed. For example, the horsemeat appeared to be originally from Romania, and moreover, it was found in products of other French companies and not only Findus.
In the following days horsemeat was found everywhere: in tortellini in Austria, in cannelloni in Sweden, in pizzas in Denmark, in burgers in Ireland, in spaghetti Bolognese, in ravioli, etc. And more importantly this meat was found in the products of the largest brands, such as Nestle and Lidl, in hospital menus and in school cafeterias …
The guilty party was found eventually: it was the Basque company Spanghero which had been selling horsemeat disguised as beef all across Europe.
How was this possible? According to European legislation only products such as meat, milk, oil (only primary products) must be stamped with the label: “it is made in this country”. And for processed foods such labels are optional. The European Union has decided to enhance these measures.
As this whole story with horsemeat began in France so did it become the first country where the new measures are going to be introduced? In March 2016 the Minister of Agriculture of France Stéphane Le Foll received the “green light” from the European Union to test a new type of food labeling within two years. From January 2017 the French consumers will be able to answer the question what their pizza and lasagna is made of.
This law will make it obligatory to specify the country of the producer on the processed products as well. French farmers welcome this new law. They believe that this innovation will support national agricultural industry and encourages consumers to buy the products 100% made in France.
Mister Le Foll explained that the following rules will now apply: products with lower than 8% meat content and lower than 50% milk content will still not be obliged to be labeled with the country that produced them. But once this threshold is exceeded, the vendor is obliged to specify the country of production, cultivation and butchering of an animal for meat, and the country of collection, packaging, and processing for milk.
To ensure that consumers can have faith in the products they buy going forward, these new food labeling laws will ensure that the origin of their food will no longer be called into question.