Meat declared a healthy food

by Editor
Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Consumers should be able to make informed decisions; the industry wants to provide healthy foods. Together we'll find an acceptable solution." EU Commissioner Markos Kyprianou made his statement on the plans for providing nutrition profiles of meat and meat products at the European Meat Forum held in Brussels.

Nutritional value profiles can only help in the battle against obesity in conjunction with other measures. All parties concerned with food and physical movement must be involved. This is how EU Markos Kyprianou presented the EU Commission's overall approach regarding the Health Claims Regulation.

Together with the labelling requirements it represents the legal basis for encouraging healthier eating habits amongst Europeans. However, the emphasis is not on apportioning blame. Rather the aim is to remind all those involved - manufacturers, consumers, parents, schools, doctors - of their duty and to do their part.

Nonetheless, Kyprianou believes that the food industry is facing its greatest challenge: the goal must be to produce healthy products which taste good. Reducing salt content, Kyprianou claimed, was the top priority. The British Meat Processors Association is already collaborating successfully with the UK food safety authorities. The Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection would like to see such efforts extended to all member states.

Kyprianou sees the benefit of nutritional value profiles in their providing consumers with extra information. Only on the basis of reliable food packaging information can they make conscious decisions regarding their diet. "We want to see safe foods," said the Commissioner, although he stressed they should not be divided into "good" and "bad" foods.

In the future, nutritional values profiles are to be the prerequisite for using nutrition-related claims in adverts. Foods which exceed either the upper or lower limits of their group profile will then be excluded from making such claims. As far as meat is concerned, the idea of excluding primary agricultural products from mandatory nutritional profiling could be accepted. The Commissioner gave cause for hope: on account of its valuable nutrients, meat, together with olive oil, could be a potential exception to this directive. However, we now need to wait for the decision of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scientists.