PLACING GREATER value on meat could help to cut consumption with knock-on benefits for the environment and health, according to a new report published by WWF-UK and the Food Ethics Council (FEC).
High meat consumption has been associated with a number of factors related to important challenges facing the global food system, including climate change, obesity, water scarcity, land use change, global poverty and inequality. However, the idea of eating less meat as part of a “sustainable diet” has become a political hot potato.
WWF-UK’s new report, “Prime cuts: valuing the meat we eat”, concludes that while a simple “eat less meat” message is overly simplistic, encouraging consumption of “less but better” could resonate with consumers and benefit farmers.
“Whilst the term ‘better’ is not easy to define, the report demonstrates that society needs to value the food we eat, especially meat, much more than we do,” said Mark Driscoll, head of food at WWF-UK. “This may ultimately mean paying more to reflect the true social and environmental costs, whilst rewarding producers for looking after the environment.”
WWF-UK identified nine ways in which “better” meat production and consumption could be defined, including “better for human health”, “better for the environment”, “better for farming profitability” and “better for taste and quality”.
The report comes at a time when the quality and value of meat sold in the UK is under the spotlight with two cases of contamination in the supply chain in the course of just a few days.
The first involved horsemeat found in burgers supplied by Irish firm Silvercrest to the likes of Tesco and Burger King. Then, late last week, pork DNA was discovered in halal pies and pasties supplied to prisons through 3663. Having recognised a potential connection between a supplier of halal products for the Ministry of Justice and one of its suppliers, the distributor tested five products and was “shocked” to find pork DNA. 3663 has now revealed the products came from McColgan’s Quality Foods, based in County Tyrone. A spokeswoman told national press that no other customers have been affected.
The Telegraph is also reporting that traces of pork DNA were also found in the Silvercrest burgers.
The Food Standards Agency has called the UK’s food companies in for talks today about the “unacceptable” situation.