"It is important that consumers exercise choice about the food they eat, and to choose, it is necessary that they have the right information."
This phrase, it is a must spokesman UK government that is trying to rebuild a good conscience after the case of mad cow.
It is true that the consumer can influence the market as soon as it is notified. By his choice, it can prevent the commercial success of products he does not want, the best recent example is that of GMOs. The information in this field is therefore considerable challenges for producers and distributors. The label is the primary source of consumer information more accessible.
In recent weeks, customers food stores are seized with doubt when making their usual purchases of meat and poultry. The cause of this confusion lies in a small label wording rather disturbing:
"may have been produced (e) with hormones as stimulators of performance and with antibiotics and / or other antimicrobial substances as performance enhancers"
Disturbing and difficult to understand. And depending on the case, read the message falls within the obstacle course, provided that it is possible to decrypt it.
This label is the fulfillment of a federal order that submits to the reportable meat that could have been produced with the help of hormones or antibiotics in order to promote animal growth.
Like many countries, exporting to Switzerland, yet tolerate the use of antibiotics, it is necessary that the products are labeled according to the terms of the new law. But the problem is that there is no real guarantee that they are free of hormones or antibiotics.
One might think that some of the products sold are not safe: "No way, we are certain of the quality of the products we are selling." meets Marcel Udry, meat quality manager at Coop. "We can reassure customers, because according to the sources, we have certificates which ensure that such meat does not contain hormones or antibiotics stimulate the growth of these farms."
But the self is not enough. If businesses want to avoid labeling, they have to certify their products to Swiss standards by an independent official body, which is clearly not the case of some items sold at Coop: "Articles are we label those whose provenance certification track. They are not in compliance, we must take additional information in the country, and until we have the answers, we label according to law. "
But one might ask whether it would not be better to sell being sure that the products do not contain these substances. Marcel Udry, the Coop "... sure these products do not contain these substances, we conducted audits. We have trouble with China and Hungary are in the process of certification so that in the months Upcoming these labels will no longer applicable. "
In the European Union and Switzerland, the use of hormones in raising animals is prohibited. As for antibiotics, they are generally tolerated in animal feed as growth, except in Switzerland where they are allowed only for therapeutic purposes. But if Switzerland seems more severe than its neighbors, in reality, it is unclear whether an antibiotic was used in a veterinary goal or to give a boost to the growth of animals.
These are the cantonal chemists who are responsible for ensuring the application of the law. They have the power to report offenders to justice. But as it is almost impossible to know why a farmer used antibiotics, it is unclear how sanctions could be taken.
Hungarian and Chinese chickens rabbits ...
Today is Hungarian farms that comes most of the rabbits that are found in our plates. As for poultry, 30% of the amount consumed in Switzerland comes from China, most of these products being distributed in supermarkets. The problem is that they are still not certified without hormones or antibiotics.
To ensure that production methods are properly identified, is checked directly in shops and restaurants by the cantonal chemists. They ensure that the products contain the warning when necessary and analyze the items at risk. But this work takes time and is expensive. So that today, the chemists are in a situation of relative powerlessness. Claude Corvi, Geneva's cantonal chemist, said. "So far, we have found relatively frequently foodstuffs that were not labeled in a regulatory manner and contained the antibiotics added difficulty that we will meet, c 'is that they are prohibited as growth factors, but accepted as a therapeutic agent, and the producer said he had to treat his animals because they were sick, and that we can not distinguish the antibiotic used as a growth factor that used as a therapeutic agent. "(...)" We must now apply the law, and that's the problem, everyone does not respect the law. "
According to polls conducted by the cantonal chemists, more than half of the shops and restaurants do not respect the law. The label "may contain antibiotics" does not appear on the packaging. So impossible for the consumer to know if the meat they are buying has been raised without antibiotics or not. This is all the ambiguity of labeling conditional. It would be much clearer to say: meat without antibiotics warranty, which means that others can hold.
But for issues of international trade agreement, not to be accused by the WTO hinder free trade, the Swiss authorities prefer the current blurring.
One thing which is added the discontent of the Federation Romande consumers, including Isabelle Eichenberger is the spokesman: "This does not satisfy us in many ways this statement with" may "is a warning, but not. clear information. We ask that the consumer has accurate information to choose knowingly. What will not we, that is the size of the labels, and what we think is serious is that with food scandals there have been about meat, we tend to say that traceability is a tool to reassure consumers. Here we see that retailers are not able to ensure the traceability of such products, since they are unable to say what mode of production were the farms. " (...) "Neglect is also that of the State which allowed such return for various reasons, including fears of retaliation. And it is true that it is quite unsatisfactory for consumer."
The same problem arose with GMOs: unable to guarantee products free of genetically modified organisms, distributors plan to systematically report on the packaging that the product may contain GMOs. Like this, no need to check it is estimated that the consumer is informed except that suddenly he has no choice. He can not put pressure on the market by favoring the purchase of products guaranteed without antibiotics or guaranteed GMO for example.
Today, the situation is this: if the distributors and restaurateurs have no guarantee that their suppliers work without antibiotics, they must indicate that the product may contain antibiotics. As they do not all products containing antibiotics, but without labels, alongside the shelves of certified products, which is highly regrettable. For a product to be certified, it must be an independent body has verified that the farmer does not use antibiotics for growth promotion. Example from a French producer that exports to Switzerland.
La Bresse, in southern Burgundy, is the first region in France for the production of poultry. Within a radius of 100 km around the city of Louhans, most producers provide LDC Bourgogne, a company that exports to Switzerland for nearly 30 years.
The company requires its 350 producers to feed their chicks according to this strict rule: eat and drink without antibiotics and growth factors. Only are tolerated antibiotics for medical treatment.
The entire production chain has been officially certified by an independent body of inspectors who practice since spot checks.
And for his part also, LDC regularly visits his suppliers. Henri Rospars is responsible for producing LDC:. "This is a specification that complies with the law of poultry consumption in Switzerland, that is to say without antibiotics and without growth factors The main thing that is guaranteed, it's food, that is to say a check at the feed manufacturers and strict control. "
Also on the scene, Christel Daloz, a veterinary inspector that depends on the French Ministry of Agriculture: "As veterinarians, we are not related to companies that can inspect and apply the law regardless of societies."
But raising under the new standards is not self, we had to accept the principle to everyone, starting with producers, for which the start was not easy. But they adapted. It seemed natural to stop using hazardous products.
The control does not stop there. Inside the company, all the steps are inspected. 40,000 chickens and 10,000 turkeys are slaughtered every day. 950 people are employed on the site. The annual turnover amounts to 250 million Swiss francs. At this scale, adapt to new standards resulted in a 10% increase in price.
Regarding general hygiene, Christel Daloz adds that veterinary inspectors certify that the share in Switzerland corresponds to the Swiss regulations: "There can be purchase from the unaudited by the slaughterhouse farmers, so those have different batch numbers and are not sent to Switzerland. "
If antibiotics are prohibited, it is not to annoy the farmers or on unnecessary burdens. This is because it is a serious public health problem, not only in the field of allergies. WHO says there is a direct link between the use of antibiotics in animal breeding and increasing antibiotic resistant strains contaminating humans. We have become more weak against infectious agents.
According to Professor Jean-Claude Pechère the Department of Genetics and Microbiology at the University of Geneva: "You give antibiotics to animals, supposedly to make them grow faster, to seek an economic advantage You select resistant bacteria in. animals and they spread in nature and you increase the level of resistance in the environment. The resistance is a big problem today. WHO has a special commission working on it, because there are more in addition to resistance to treatment and these infections kill thousands of people. "
Only by reducing the consumption that we can do something, which will make community service. The global consumption of antibiotics is 50,000 to 100,000 tons per year.
For the consumer can choose, it would be better positive labeling like "guaranteed without antibiotics", rather than the current labeling in the conditional "may contain antibiotics."
Meanwhile, Coop is committed to putting these in French labels. The retailer hopes to certify all its lines of supply by the end of the year and thus renounce this labeling. For its part, Migros, which would not respond on camera to questions, said that, despite the criticism of certain cantonal chemists, there is no problem with its products. Restaurants should also indicate whether the product may contain antibiotics, but according to surveys, they are even less zealous as department stores before the law. In short, for now, impossible to have the warranty eat meat free of antibiotics, because the law on the labeling is not applied!