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Volume 19 Issue 2 (2012)

Meat Safety: A Brief Review on Concerns Common to Science and Consumers                                                         275-288

Author: Inês Viegas(a), José Manuel Lima Santos(b), António Barreto(a) and Magda Aguiar Fontes(a)
Affiliation: (a)Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária, Technical University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal, (b)Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Technical University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal

Abstract            PDF

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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International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Published by Michigan State University

Official publication of the Research Committee on Sociology of Agriculture and Food (RC-40)
of the International Sociological Association (ISA)

Editors: Raymond Jussaume, Claire Marris and Katerina Psarikidou

Frequency: 3 issues per year 
ISSN: 0798-1759

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