Choice calls for clarity on meat labelling

Consumer group Choice says shoppers are left scratching their heads when it comes to understanding how the meat they're buying has been produced.

In a recent survey, Choice found that 83 percent of respondents said they considered it important to know whether their food is ethically produced, but 91 percent said there isn't enough information available on ethical production.

Choice food policy advisor, Angela McDougall, said "Consumers pay a premium for good quality steak but they may not understand what the different production methods are.

"When people order a grain-fed steak, they may not realise that this means cattle are in a feedlot for 60 or 70 days on a protein-rich diet with the primary objective of fast weight gain."

There are more than 70,000 beef producers in Australia managing 27 million head of cattle, and According to estimates from the Meat & Livestock Association (MLA), Australians spent around $6.7 billion on beef in 2010 – 2011, ranging from pature-fed to grain-fed, and organic to hormone-free.

"Understanding the meaning of different steak descriptions can help shoppers decide what’s important to them – for some it’s the ethical concerns like animal welfare and sustainability, while for others it might come down to value for money or taste," said McDougall.

Choice has a beef labelling guide which aims to help consumers understand the jargon surrounding beef production.

Labelling has been a key concern for Choice in recent months, with the group also calling on clarity around country of origin labelling and getting involved in the debate around the recent health claim labelling reforms, arguing that self-substantiation of claims will threaten consumer confidence.


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