Food labeling

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The horse meet scandal taking place in europe right now is an interesting point in globalization.

It is a complex system. The consumer expects something to cost a certain prize for a certain quality, the market so sets a prize for the producer, lets say 0,90€ for the product. This includes packaging as well as all the other steps until the finished product, so that the end product can be sold to us, the consumer, according to our demanding. The producer although limited by those 0,90€ has to find all those elements for the finished product. This can be quite difficult considering all the limitations by set protocols. The place where he finds those materials to compose the end product is irrelevant in this sense as he has to find the cheapest solution to conform the market limits of 0,90€. If he would go above this limit there won’t be any profit and therefore he would eliminate himself from the competitive market.

The place where the producer economize is consequently the food, as there exists forms and methods of producing and recreating food, adding chemicals to reinforce certain aspects, that are far cheaper than taking “real” food. Additives and animals in food are quite difficult to trace back, as for example meat we buy in France, might be born in spain, transferred to Slovakia to be raised there, fed by gen manipulated food imported cheaply from South America, to then be transferred to France to be killed and so give a cheap meet to buy, as standards of how to treat food differ from country to country.

The horse meet scandal persists on the sudden knowledge that there might be something different in our food, than what we know and what is told us. But how can possibly everything about the food we eat be labeled on the packaging? The problem is that most of the food producer don’t even know what they put in as they only opt for the cheapest version to assemble ingredients, to conform the market competition.

The tracing back of food has become very difficult in a globalized world of market competition.

The horse meat, as well as donkey meat, found in the “beaf-meat” labeled products is only a slight problem to other things we do not know about our food. The minor problem of this meat not being another meat was pushed up to a huge propaganda and therefore hysterical reaction of the masses, which forced companies to throw away tons of good eatable food. Sure this cause is moral for many people as they consider the horse to be a domestic animal with emotional value as well as the moral right to know about the steps of production about the way from the animal to our plate. The bigger problem in this case was that anyway the animal was dead already and secondly these moral aspects don’t uphold the justification of morally throwing away good meat, which per se is not harmful for our health as it is not rotten.

We should try to overcome this fear of violation of our rights by other humans, but try thinking what we could do best out of a situation like this. A man in austria working for a social institution, for example, collected sausages from butchers who had to throw away food because of the restrictions of the Foodstuffs Act. Two tons of sausages where collected for the homeless for the city of Graz. In an interview he explained that he tried a sausage, which is completely edible and how surprisingly tastes exactly the same than the sausage without horse meet. Fun fact: sausages are traditionally made with donkey meat.

A lot of standards labeled as organic food are also a big fraud.

Shortly after the horse meat scandal, Biological eggs in Germany where discovered not to be what we think about organic food.

Animal conservationist claim the european organic food standards as not transparent enough, as well as the laws considering organic food might seem quite ecological but are in fact not as such in real situations. In case of the Bio-eggs the standards are pretty simple. The hens have to have the possibility to leave the stable to the fresh air, where they can look for food if they want. The stable shall not contain more than 3000 animals and there shouldn’t be more than 6 hens per square meter. Hens although are not used to so many of their race and it is a huge stress factor so that they hardly leave the stable as well as they fear the open outside for predators, as for money reasons there is nothing such hiding places installed outside. To voluntarily exceed some of those number restrictions is easy as well as nobody would come to count the exact number of hens. The stress and the unnatural way of how these animals live leads to cannibalism and death which changes nothing from a laying battery hen. The profit although is quite high as ‘Bio’ labeled eggs are in average about 0,10c more expensive than non-labeled products.  It is not only a fraud to the consumer but as well to the honest organic farmer.

Personally I don’t know what logo to trust anymore. Generally, a european sign for ‘Bio’ food should show the european wide standards for organic food. But other, more regional logos are allowed as well. That automatically shows that this food has been controlled with different local and regional standards as well and so shows different expectations about organic food as well as a tighter net of inspection and so more security.

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european sign for ‘Bio’ food

Leopoldine Liechtenstein

sources:

news.at

bild.de

spiegel.de

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