International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Meat Safety: A Brief Review on Concerns Common to Science and Consumers

International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Volume 19, issue 2 (2012), pages 275-288

Author: Inês Viegasa, José Manuel Lima Santosb, António Barretoa and Magda Aguiar Fontesa
Affiliation: aFaculdade de Medicina Veterinária, Technical University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal, bInstituto Superior de Agronomia, Technical University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal

ISSN: 0798-1759


Meat safety is a multidimensional concept, and there are reasons to believe there is an information asymmetry between consumers, producers and safety authorities along the supply chain. Within this framework, this article puts together consumer concerns about meat safety, the current scientific evidence and the existing legal framework in the EU, trying to unveil possible fields for quality differentiating strategies. As such, this article does not add new data to the food safety or consumer issues fields. Rather, it allows a new perspective by associating two different research areas.

Assessing the reported consumer concerns regarding meat, it is not possible to define one specific worry as more prevalent or frequent. Still, the presence of drug residues in meat is a concern often shared by consumers of several types of meat in many different European countries. Interestingly, it is also an open scientific question. Research on the association between the presence of anti-bacterial residues in meat and microbial resistance is frequent. However, there is still no consensus on this subject. Still, even in the absence of such a consensus, it is a relevant issue for meat production, public health and consumer interest.

Regarding the EU legal framework, the food safety legislation has accompanied scientific development, even acting preventively in questions without scientific consensus, as in the case of the use of anti-bacterials as a feed additive. Nevertheless, even if the use of anti-bacterials in food animals is covered by several legal documents, it is still a concern for consumers. This suggests that some consumers may be interested in meat products that relieve their distrust. Therefore, there may be grounds for the development of a differention strategy, aiming at segments willing to pay premiums for meat with increased guarantee of anti-bacterial residue control.

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