Food Law News - EU - 2005

Commission Press Release (IP/05/230), 1 March 2005

MEAT - What does ‘veal' mean to you? The Commission asks consumers to have their say

The European Commission today launched an internet consultation on consumers' perception of veal. The survey raises questions on what characteristics consumers expect veal to have as well as on the production of calves. At the moment, meats with different characteristics are sold on the EU market under the denomination ‘veal' without the consumer always being correctly informed on what she or he is buying. In the single market, correct information to the consumer is essential and several Member States have requested a harmonized definition of veal. The answers to the questions raised in the consultation might not be as uniform across Europe as one might think. On the basis of the information received through the on-line consultation, and following discussions with Member States and other stakeholders, the Commission intends to develop proposals for a European definition of ‘veal'.

In the European Union (EU) production and consumption of veal are significant only in some of the Member States: just 3 countries account for almost 75 % of EU production of veal. However, veal is produced and consumed in almost all EU countries.

Meats sold in the EU market under the denomination 'veal' result from animals produced in different livestock-farming systems. The characteristics in terms of feed, age and weight of the animals at the time of slaughter vary appreciably. Generally speaking, the older the animal becomes, the less milk products it consumes. These products are replaced by fibres and cereals, and the weight of the animal increases. In certain cases the milk diet is completely suppressed. The characteristics (colour, texture, flavour...) of the meats obtained, which are closely connected to the method of livestock-farming, change accordingly.

Recently several Member States asked the Commission to harmonize the definition of veal at European Union level in the interest of the consumer.

This is why the Commission is now consulting European consumers, as broadly as possible, on this question. To participate in this consultation you are invited to fill in the questionnaire at This questionnaire is available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and Polish.

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