Sausage Producers Not Keen on Agriculture Ministry's Idea for 'Real Meat' Stickers ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

The country's leading meat packers remain less than enthusiastic about a Ministry of Agriculture proposed program for quality labels on meat products.

Based on criticism from consumer advocates in recent years that many cold cuts rely too heavily on binders and fillers, the ministry developed a plan to provide consumers with more information on what they are buying.

The label would be awarded to products that contain 60 percent meat and are free of products such as mechanically separated meat and pink slime.

Tallegg marketing director Triin Kõrgmaa told Postimees that her company believes that the current labels provide adequate information.

Rakvere, the country's largest meat packer, said about a third of their products were compatible with the new label, but Liis Põld, director of communications, said changing packaging is expensive and the ingredients list already provides percentages.

Atria, the Finnish group that owns the trademarks Maks ja Moorits, Wõro and Vastse-Kuuste, also said the topic was too new to make a decision.

Saaremaa Lihatööstus said the matter was under discussion.

Otepää's Edgar meat plant said, however, that it does plan to use the label. Director Maie Niit said that Edgar does not use mechanically separated meat and 75 percent of all of its products would qualify for the label.

Marketing and sales director of Nõo Lihatööstus, Simmo Kruustükk, said: "Nõo is one of the few meat plants that does not use mechanically separated meat. We believe that this is not full-fledged meat but a substitute and that should not be considered meat."

One thing not covered by the quality label would be additives such as flavor enhancers. Kristo Mäe, a spokesman for the Agriculture Ministry, said there was no scientific consensus against additives such as glutamates and that it would be easy for companies to opt for similar additives, leading to an "arms race." Nor will fat content be regulated under the label.

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