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A review of the 'consumer interest' in organic meat

By Carol Brennan, Kelly Gallagher and M G McEachern


The study aims to provide a critical review of the literature on the consumer interest in the UK in organic food, with a particular focus on organic meat. Given that people are more likely to purchase products if they have faith in them, the regulation of organic food standards is reviewed to explore issues affecting consumers. This is followed by a review of the organic meat sector. Aspects of the consumer interest considered in this paper include consumer information, consumer access, consumer safety, consumer choice and consumer representation. As the literature on organic food/meat in the UK is extensive, it was therefore necessary to be selective with regard to the publications suitable for this review. Most of the literature selected for this paper has been drawn from UK publications, although several European and international sources have also been used. The review found that there is a considerable level of interest in the UK organic meat sector. As the regulation of organic food produced is set at varying standards across the European Union, this could lead to consumers being misled regarding the quality of products offered. It was also found that, although consumers perceive organic foods as healthier, more nutritious and tasting better than non-organic products, the literature shows that this may have only a limited basis on fact. Contamination of organic products with pesticides and even genetically modified ingredients is always possible. Organic farmers are permitted to use other ingredients in organic meat products that may be harmful to health. Escherichia coli and Salmonella risks associated with conventional meat also appear to affect organic meat. Consumers need clear, accurate and reliable information about organic meat. They also need to be provided with safe products, a choice of organic products, access to organic products and to be represented effectively

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