Meat is a food of primary importance. It is however, at least  for the last two decades, subjected to numerous attacks and criticisms. Among the main accusations that stand out are its environmental impact and the supposed health problems connected with it. With the awareness that sustainability in meat is a complex and debated subject, the Sustainable Meat Project wants to identify the key issues, the state of knowledge and the latest trends in scientific and technical guidelines. The intent is to show that production and consumption of meat can be sustainable, both for health and for the environment. Various kinds of organisations and stakeholders participate to the debate on the production and consumption of meat, each characterised by different purposes: animal welfare organisations and/or environmental groups, research centres, media. In this context, the point of view of meat producers, at least in Italy, has never been inserted, and who feel instead the necessity to join in the debate by providing information, details and objective data that is useful to correct, where necessary, some opinions, which are sometimes prejudiced if not completely incorrect. From 2012, to achieve this scope, a group of operators in the livestock sector (companies and associations) an organization has been organized to support scientific studies that, in a logic of pre-competitive transparency, allows to achieve, as well as the publication of this study, the launching of the Sustainable Meat Project and then the Web portals and Born from the common purpose of the three main meat industry associations, Assocarni, Assica and Unaitalia, the site aims to cover all topics related to the world of meat: an unprecedented project in Italy, contributing with an instructing and informative approach to a balanced report on health, nutrition and sustainability.

The main challenge of this initiative has been the continuous attacks of the media and policymakers against the consumption of beef, both from the environmental as well as from the health care point of view. The initiative has been implemented in 2015 and has been promoted by three Italian associations that represent the livestock farmers, the slaughterhouses and the meat processing industry. The main benefit of this initiative is the promotion of moderate consumption of beef and to creation of a platform to produce information about the nutritional value of beef. 

Lessons learned from this initiative are 

  1. It is possible to produce objective and scientific information about the nutritional value of beef and about the role of beef cattle to exploit less favoured areas in Europe, that otherwise would run the risk to be abandoned 
  2. The role of beef cattle to exploit less favoured areas in Europe, that otherwise would run the risk to be abandoned, can be demonstrated by means of scientific research results

    The Sustainable Meat Project contributes to the maintenance of beef cattle farms in Europe and to the continuity of the generation of  income and employment 



Literature source: Sustainable Meat Project

Author: Kees de Roest - CRPA