Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

FOCUS

Many Turks angry over Syrian refugee situation

Read more

ENCORE!

Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday : The Best of the Bard

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

The Tour de France, a PR machine

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the third plane crash in one week - from France, Algeria and Burkina Faso

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the plane crash that took 116 lives - almost half of them French

Read more

  • Live: ‘No survivors’ from Algerian plane crash, says Hollande

    Read more

  • In pictures: Debris and devastation at Air Algérie Flight AH5017 crash scene

    Read more

  • Paris bans new Gaza protest scheduled for Saturday

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Tour de France fans bring the ambience to the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Wreckage of Algeria plane found in Mali

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

    Read more

France

Farmers unfazed by horsemeat scandal at agricultural fair

© Rachel Holman

Text by Rachel HOLMAN

Latest update : 2013-02-26

The 50th edition of France’s annual International Agricultural Fair opened in the capital Paris on Saturday amid a horsemeat scandal that has rattled the European food industry.

France’s 50th annual International Agricultural Fair, a vibrant and bustling showcase of the country’s agricultural sector, opened in Paris on Saturday amid a Europe-wide horsemeat scandal that has shaken the food industry.

Held in a sprawling exposition centre on the southwestern fringes of the capital, the fair was staged in several different buildings, each divided by theme. In a pavilion dedicated to cattle, bulking steers, brown cows, Holsteins and calves – the unsuspecting victims of a food-labelling controversy – stood idly tethered to platforms covered thick with hay.

In the weeks leading up to the International Agricultural Fair, much of Europe was shocked after it emerged that horsemeat had been sold as “beef” in pre-made frozen meals in numerous countries. France soon found itself at the heart of the scandal when it was discovered that French company Spanghero had allegedly bought around 750 tonnes of horsemeat over an estimated six-month period from foreign slaughterhouses to be deliberately re-labelled and distributed as EU-origin beef.

Despite widespread outrage, the mood at the fair seemed largely unaffected by the issue. Event attendees milled through the aisles, perusing stands and gawking at the displays of cattle.

“It’s not a health crisis where people are completely turned off by meat,” Yves Berger, general director of France’s national interprofessional livestock and meat association (Interbev) told FRANCE 24. “It’s quite the contrary. People are now going to retailers, to butchers and making their own lasagnas. We’ve noticed a greater interest in meat sections even in supermarkets.”

‘It’s all about traceability’

Regarding frozen foods, Berger added that Interbev had already sat down with ministers responsible for the country’s food safety and agriculture departments to discuss introducing more stringent rules on labeling meat in pre-prepared meals.

“We have to limit the risks. That doesn’t mean that fraud will no longer exist, but we have to limit it by all means possible. And in order to do so, we’ve proposed imposing the same regulations that apply from fresh meat to pre-prepared meals that contain meat,” Berger said. “For example, labels that declare where the meat was raised and the country where it was slaughtered.”

Jean-Jacques Leru, a livestock farmer from Côtes d’Armor in France’s western Brittany region, agreed that in the end the issue came down to one major theme.

“It’s traceability again. It’s all about traceability,” Leru told FRANCE 24. “We buy meat from Romania despite the fact that there is some in France... It’s not Romania’s fault, but if the rules of the game were clearer, if the packaging was labelled with where the meat came from, there wouldn’t be a problem anymore.”

French President François Hollande, who also made an appearance at the opening of the International Agricultural Fair, echoed Berger and Leru, calling for a Europe-wide labeling system ahead of talks with European farm ministers next week.

“There needs to be traceability, that is what I want from talks on a European level,” Hollande said. “We need compulsory labeling on meats that will be used in processed food.”

The event, which attracted more than 680,000 people last year, runs from February 23 until March 3.

Date created : 2013-02-23

  • FRANCE

    French firm halts wholesale meat trade amid horsemeat scandal

    Read more

  • SWITZERLAND

    Nestlé pulls beef meals after finding horsemeat traces

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    France reinstates licence for firm in horsemeat scandal

    Read more

COMMENT(S)