Restaurant meat origin, the proposed decree-law of the Italia Zootechnica Consortium

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Meat origin in restaurants and public establishments, the proposed decree-law of the Italia Zootecnica Consortium is launched today along with the Padua Charter. An innovative project to enhance the miracle of Italian animal husbandry 4.0, under the banner of full transparency on animal registry and welfare, breeding conditions, and food safety.

Origin of meat at the supermarket

The beef cattle industry in Italy has made great strides over the past two decades. Because of a crisis, that of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which has not affected Italian meat production but has in fact forced operators to make enormous efforts to ensure full traceability, from stable to table. (1) That is, from the birth of animals to the products derived from them.

European consumers can thus know the origin of meat for sale, expressed in the terms of country of birth, country of rearing and country of slaughter. Or in a single expression – ‘Origin’, followed by the name of the state – if the said transactions took place in a single national territory.

Restaurant meat origin, the decree-law

The rules of origin, however, do not extend to meat preparations such as hamburgers, made with the addition of other ingredients, e.g., plant fibers, (2) natural flavorings, spices, salt. Nor unfortunately to meat foods prepared in public establishments. Such as restaurants and eateries, canteens, (3) fast-food restaurants and take-aways. Although meals away from home now account for about half of total consumption. (4)

Consumer confidence in meats, moreover, has dropped dramatically over the past few years due to international scandals originating elsewhere. We refer to the so-called horsegate, the scandal of horse meat passed off as beef and also used by Big Food in various compound foods (such as hamburgers and frozen lasagna). And to the Brazilian meat crisis, which has flared up in recent months with European alerts if also kept under control by our Ministry of Health.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to restore the confidence of Italian consumers in the Made in Italy meat production chain. Since Italian animal husbandry has devoted considerable resources in recent decades on the various fronts of:

animal welfare, barn climate control, animal treatment, proper use of antibiotics and veterinary drugs,

FOOD SAFETY. Which is confirmed by the unrelatedness of the various crises recorded in the European alert system (including those related to dioxin contamination). But also in the positive results of drug residue monitoring plans,

Computerized tracking and recording of both master data and data on animal handling and movement. The Italian miracle is represented by an animal registry unparalleled in the world, covering 6 million animals and enabling the public veterinary system to oversee any relevant information for the higher purposes highlighted above.

The example of France

The solution is at hand, and follows the positive example of France. Which as early as 2002 introduced a meat origin traceability system extended to mass catering, with mandatory consumer information. (5) France has continued this path of transparency by introducing in 2016 a requirement to indicate the origin of meat used as ingredients in other food products (e.g., meat preparations, sausages, sauces). (6)

The proposed decree-law on the origin of meat in restaurants, drafted by the writer on behalf of the Italia Zootecnica Consortium, defines the obligation for communities to ensure the traceability of the origin of meat used as ingredients in food, and the duty to inform consumers in this regard. In menus or other information tools, in fonts no smaller than those used to name the foods themselves. So that consumAtors in Italy can make truly informed choices.

Attached is the text of the draft legislation. That it is hoped will garner the immediate support of the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Maurizio Martina. And of the minister for health, Beatrice Lorenzin.

DD

Notes
(1) reg. EC 1760/00 as amended, reg. CE 1825/00
(2) The nature of plant fibers, it should be remembered, must among other things be specified (as many neglect to do)
(3) E.g., school canteens, company canteens, hospital canteens.
(4) Source Eurostat
(5) Décret n°2002-1465 du 17 décembre 2002 relatif à l’étiquetage des viandes bovines dans les établissements de restauration
(6) Italy has also moved, we recall, with the milk origin decree. But it has not yet dealt with meat, which, while deserving of attention