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'Council demands for ethical meat break EU law': authority

Published: 04 Oct 2009 11:50 GMT+02:00
Updated: 04 Oct 2009 11:50 GMT+02:00

Several county councils across Sweden demand that the meat supplied to the schools and elder care homes in their municipalities meet Swedish regulations for the treatment of animals.

But the demand for higher ethical standards have now been dismissed by the Competition Authority, which maintains that EU regulations prohibit it.

"One can not favour one country's producers in this way. All suppliers should be treated equally," Charlotta Frenander, a lawyer at the Competition Authority said.

The attention of the authority to the issue was brought by the Danish animal slaughter sector.

"They maintain that they are unable to compete on the same conditions," Frenander said.

Around ten county councils demand that imported meat is produced to ethical standards equivalent to Swedish legislation.

The agriculture minister Eskil Erlandsson has argued on Sveriges Radio's Ekot news programmed that the councils are in the wrong.

Meanwhile local councillors in Laholm and Mellerud - two of the municipalities which place the demands on imported meat - argue that the demands are not in breach of EU rules.

"We do not think it harms competition at all. If the Danish producers can guarantee that they can meet the standards for animal protection and welfare then they are welcome. Had we written "Swedish goods" then it would have been a clear breach of the EU law, but not this," Robert Svensson, a Centre party councillor in Mellerud explained.

But the Competition Authority rejects this argument.

Even if the Danish farmers could meet the Swedish standards for animal protection, there is no way for the buyers to check this, Charlotta Frenander said.

"Common principles are lacking at EU level. Swedish producers are therefore in practice favoured, as they are bound to meet the standards."

Michael Stråhle Wärring at Laholm council argues that the issue should be left to the courts to decide.

"It is a problem when public bodies can not buy in products with the level of animal protection that we require. As a private person, you can choose, but our school children and elderly are exposed to whatever food is bought," he said.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

17:34 October 4, 2009 by hjoian
it was killed because you want to eat it....get real!!
08:59 October 5, 2009 by Keith #5083
It's simple really. The Danes exported Bacon to England and established a brand identity -'Danish' branded on every side of bacon. It was not illegal to choose to buy 'Danish' over local bacon.(This was also before the EU,actually).

Swedish producers require a 'brand label' (perhaps KRAV functions like this?) which establishes the characterictics of the brand. These characteristics - like 'tastier Danish Bacon' (?) in the UK - are sales points for the products. I am not aware of any law in the EU that says you HAVE to buy this product or that product.

That there is free competition, marketing the different selling points of an individual product, also pre-supposes the customers' free choice to buy whichever is attractive to them - the price, the benefits, the quality,the presentation - in other words, the brand label awareness!!! Parents can simply state in writing to school authorities that their child can only be given 'KRAV' or 'similarly branded' meat which complies with the parents' and child's desire to eat meat produced from humanely treated animals.

PS. 'hjoian' - was it also born because we want to eat it?
19:49 October 5, 2009 by Kaethar
That's ridiculous. Sweden places higher standards on animal welfare than the rest of the EU (one reason why un-stunned halal butchery is illegal here). Now the EU is trying to bring us down to their level. I say screw them. If they want to sell meat to us they need to have procedures to fit OUR standards. We shouldn't be forced to buy meat we don't want.
23:59 October 6, 2009 by DamnImmigrant
@Kaethar - That's ridiculous. Sweden places higher standards on animal welfare than the rest of the EU (one reason why un-stunned halal butchery is illegal here). Now the EU is trying to bring us down to their level. I say screw them. If they want to sell meat to us they need to have procedures to fit OUR standards. We shouldn't be forced to buy meat we don't want.

Well said! Excellent point of view. A peoples psyche can be judged by how they treat their animals! The fact that Sweden chooses a more humane method shows them to be more advanced as a people! Let the barbarians learn from us! Do NOT take us down to the level of the barbarians!

Using this same EU logic, does this not mean that the EU cannot keep the American meat out of the EU, just because it was raised and slaughtered differently?
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