A French study published at the end of November 2018 highlighted the results of their investigation into meat based dishes. Included in 156 meat based dishes studied were lasagnas, ravioli, cannelloni among others. These dishes are often sold in large quantities in supermarkets that sell the products as containing “pure beef” or “organic beef”. However this French study from the CLCV has revealed that meat based dishes often contain very little meat and instead lots of other products.
Where is the meat?
Here are some of the “meat” based dishes that the CLCV dissected to find out how much meat was really inside:
- Lasagnes ;
- Ravioli ;
- Shepherd pies;
- Cannelloni ;
- Moussaka ;
- Meat based pasta.
Despite the problems in determining the amount of meat in each dish, the association was able to determine that shepherd pies contained the most meat, averaging at about 20%. Compared to prepared ravioli, the figures are shocking. In fact nearly 60% of ravioli tested had less than 8% meat. For the rest, one-third of the ravioli tested included about 15% meat. In fact some packaging which had labels stating “pure beef” contain only 4% of meat.
In the lasagna tested, only two had meat levels above 20%. For the res of the dishes, the lasagna had about 13% meat
Can these meat based products really claim to sell meat? This is what the CLCV are asking consumers and producers of these ready meal meat based products.
Several elements have challenged the members of the association at the origin of the investigation.
When buying a product, we tend to trust organic labeling. However, CLCV researchers reveals that this label is not a sufficient guarantee. Especially if you think of organic ravioli which is priced twice as much as normal ravioli. However these products do not contain more meat (or sometimes even less). So therefore price is not a good criteria to rely on. The most expensive products that can be found in stores are not necessarily those with the most meat.
Products containing at least 8% of meat must indicate their sources. Most (133) of the 156 dishes tested included beef of French origin. However, some products do not name the meat’s origin. This has made the study’s analysis complicated and the credibility of brands have taken a hit.
Finally, it should be noted that the products tested often have other products added. In 75% of products tested there were added flavourings, and as indicated by the CLCV “often, they are not even identified and are simply specified with the words” natural flavors “or” flavors.”
In the dishes tested 88% had texturing agents, like gelling agents, emulsifiers and many others. These products are incorporated into the dishes to give them stability and pleasant texture. However these products are not necessarily identified on the labels.
Lastly of the 156 products only “3 lasagna dishes, 2 ravioli and 1 minced pie had no texturing agent, flavoring or other additive,” says the collective. In these added elements, some are also controversial like fatty acid mono and diglycerides which are suspected to disrupt the intestinal flora and play a role in intestinal inflammations.
You need to ask yourself why do all these products only have a little amount of meat. Is it so they are cheaper to produce? So that they can be produced quicker? Why do manufacturers fall into the game of additives which are bad for your health? This study is questioning the agrifood industries. They are calling for better quality products (with more meat especially, as well as better nutritional contributions), a way of sourcing the meat and a clearer labeling of ingredients. However consumers need to be aware. So that you can get the most nutrients you should eat home-made food rather than ready made meals.