Where do frozen products such as chicken, peas or strawberries actually come from? That’s what the Bavarian consumer center wanted to know and started a sample. The consumer center chose 52 products that are also produced regionally in Bavaria. Result: 16 carried a designation of origin. The manufacturers of the remaining 36 products were asked where they came from. The nutrition expert Daniela Krehl says about the answers that the consumer advice center received from the manufacturer. “It was quite frightening. Regional looks very different.”
Chicken from Thailand in the Bavarian supermarket
Consumer advocates were particularly surprised by the origin of the chicken meat in the deep-freeze counters. Of the 13 dishes examined, only three had an indication of origin. For the ten other products, the consumer advocates received information on request for eight. Result: The meat mostly comes from Thailand and Brazil. This is followed by Poland, Germany, Romania, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Specifying the country of origin is voluntary
Only one manufacturer indicated the country of origin Thailand on its packaging. Daniela Krehl has a theory as to why the origin of meat is so rarely transparent for the consumer. “I suspect very strongly that the manufacturers also avoid labeling it, because I think very few people want their chicken meat from South America or Thailand.” As soon as a processing step is carried out – for example freezing of fruit and vegetables – the labeling requirement for the unprocessed product no longer applies. With meat it’s a little different. If the meat is only frozen, the country of origin must be indicated. But as soon as the meat is seasoned, for example, the information is voluntary again.
Transparency must become mandatory
The consumer protection center in Bavaria calls for legal changes. Labeling of origin with details of the country of origin must be mandatory for all foods throughout the EU – including processed ones. In the current study, two of the manufacturers and retailers surveyed showed that this is possible. These already generally disclose the country of origin of the primary ingredients on the packaging.
Peas are still the best
In the case of the frozen peas, eight of the 24 products had a designation of origin: seven came from Germany and one from the Netherlands. For the remaining 16 products, the manufacturers and trading companies only provided specific information on the origin of 11. Result: All come from EU countries.
Strawberries come from far away
Consumer advocates looked at 15 frozen strawberries. Ten of them had no indication of origin. Upon request, the consumer advocates received information on the country of origin for six products. Finding: Whether with or without a designation of origin, the growing countries are almost identical: Morocco, Turkey, Poland, Egypt or Bulgaria.
Frozen better than stored
Basically, fruit and vegetables from the deep-freeze counter can be better than “fresh” goods. Even “fresh” goods are often stored for several days. And during storage, fruit and vegetables lose a lot of vitamins and nutrients, according to nutrition expert Daniela Krehl. Deep-frozen goods, on the other hand, are usually frozen immediately after harvesting – vitamins, for example, are very well preserved.
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