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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » December 21, 2011
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Appetite for Delicacies
December 21, 2011   
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The Try Fine Food (Poznaj Dobrą Żywność) label guarantees that products are of consistently high quality and are made of ingredients whose origin has been verified, using processing methods that ensure both safety and excellent taste.

The Try Fine Food program, launched by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2004, is one of almost 400 programs designed to promote quality food products in European Union countries. The programs are part of an EU policy to increase the quality and diversity of agri-food products on the single market.

The aim of the program is to provide the consumer with reliable information stating that the products marked with the label meet stricter—additional or special—quality requirements, confirmed by independent bodies or organizations. The Try Fine Food label awarded to products taking part in the program proves that the products meet additional requirements in terms of the quality of raw materials used as well as production and processing methods. The label is awarded to products with a well-established market position, easily recognizable by consumers, produced and present on the market for at least a year, and with identification procedures in place across the food production chain, including a procedure that makes it possible to recall products that do not meet the requirements.

Products awarded this prestigious label have to meet numerous additional criteria, concerning for example additives, which should be kept to a minimum. The label can only be given to products with 2 percent or less salt content, except for dry meats, fish products and some cheeses in which the content of salt may be higher because of production process requirements. The use of bulking agents must also be kept to a minimum and the addition of mechanically deboned meat is not allowed, unless this is technically necessary. The label is awarded to products which stand out in terms of quality, ingredients, microbiological features, nutritional value as well as processing and preserving methods. At the same time, the products have to meet health and hygiene requirements, including those regarding animals and plants, defined by separate regulations.

Try Fine Food labels may be awarded to an unlimited number of producers operating on the EU market, irrespective of their size and form of ownership. The label helps consumers make informed decisions when choosing food products and increases their confidence in mass-produced products with consistently high quality. It is an incentive for producers to make good, healthy products and an instrument encouraging entrepreneurs to monitor and increase the quality of food products. It also supports sales of good Polish products in Poland and abroad.

The label is awarded to products that meet the strictest criteria, worked out by the Scientific Committee for the Quality of Food Products at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The committee made up of eminent professors and other researchers who are experts in nutrition, crop and animal farming, and law. They recommend products for the Try Fine Food label to the agriculture minister after a decision by the Chief Inspector of the Agricultural and Food Quality.

The label is granted in 15 product categories such as meat and meat products, milk and dairy products, fish and fish products, eggs and egg products, honey, edible fats, cereal, leguminous and root plant products, fruit, vegetables, mushrooms and products made from them, confectionery products, cakes, herbs and spices, alcoholic beverages, mineral water and non-alcoholic beverages.

The label is granted for no longer than three years so as to ensure very high product quality and guaranteed provenance of ingredients. 1,126 Polish products made by 124 producers have been awarded the label since the program was launched. At present, the label is held by 500 products made by 83 firms.

Polish Dairy Products Please Palates Abroad

Dairy products—including milk, yogurt, buttermilk, cheese and cream—make up the largest group of products which have the right to use the Try Fine Food label, while milk-processing plants are the largest group of producers.

“Polish milk and dairy products are stable and reliable in terms of quality and taste, which explains why they are highly rated among Polish consumers. The domestic market is still the main sales market for Polish dairy cooperatives and milk-processing plants,” says Agnieszka Maliszewska, an executive at the Polish Chamber of Milk Producers.

Polish dairy products are not only praised at home, but are increasingly highly rated by consumers in other countries. Polish dairy product exports have increased significantly since 2004. The most notable increase has occurred in the case of liquid milk and cream, which, prior to European Union enlargement, were not exported to EU countries. Since 2005, these have accounted for 15 percent of exporters’ revenues. Exports of cheese, powdered milk, yogurt, butter and ice cream are also growing rapidly. Polish dairy products are primarily exported to Germany, followed by the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Italy.

Polish Specialty: Quality Cold Cuts

Demand on the Polish market is growing for high-quality cold cuts and sausages from the premium segment. Brand-name processed meats from Poland are also finding more and more buyers in other countries.

Cold cuts and sausages are an important component of our diets because the meat in them contains high-quality and easily digestible nutrients, valuable proteins, minerals, fats and B vitamins, and also vitamins A and D. The role of protein from meat is invaluable, since proteins are essential for the proper development of the human body. They are a building material and the most important nutrient. Fat, on the other hand, protects the body from heat loss, helps absorb vitamins and is necessary for hormones to work properly. In meat, the greatest amount of fat is found in pork while the leanest meat is veal. The most important minerals supplied by meat are zinc, copper and iron.

Processed meat products, mainly ham and sausages, were very popular in Poland as far back as pre-Slavic times. Sausage (kiełbasa) was served at home to nobles, townspeople and peasants alike. Seasoned in many different ways, sausages were eaten for breakfast and before dinner. In the old days the main methods of “producing” cold cuts was drying, by hanging the meat from the ceiling to mature, and smoking—in natural smoke, of course. Meat filling was stuffed into natural casings like intestines and stomachs; of course no chemicals were used, just a great variety of spices.

The average Pole eats 65 kg of meat and processed meat products per year, or about 20 percent less than the average European Union citizen. Over a quarter of processed meats eaten in Polish homes today are premium cold cuts and sausages. The demand for these is growing as the population’s affluence increases.

Janusz Rodziewicz, president of the Association of Polish Butchers and Producers of Processed Meat, says the current demand for traditional and regional products is linked to a desire (especially in the older generation) to return to the “flavors of one’s youth.” “On the other hand,” he told the website portalspozywczy.pl, “the choice is made particularly by young, educated people, very often parents of small children who want to give them food of the best quality and flavor.”

Polish meat products are also well known in other countries. Traditionally, the highest sales are in large expatriate centers in the United States and Britain.

However, it’s not just expatriate Poles who enjoy these tasty products. Increased exports of processed meat to Britain following the latest emigration wave stimulated interest in Polish cold cuts and sausages among British gourmets.

The premium processed meat on offer includes products with the Try Fine Food label, which is a guarantee of high and stable quality, raw materials from known sources and processing technologies ensuring safety and excellent flavor. For example, the label has been granted to many varieties of ham, sausage and pork loin products from Zakłady Mięsne Grupy Sokołów SA, Grupa Polski Koncern Mięsny Duda SA and Zakład Mięsny “Mościbrody” in Mościbrody. Producers of kiełbasa krakowska sucha (dried Cracow sausage), a highly valued sausage in Poland, whose product received the Try Fine Food label include Stół Polski Sp. z o.o. Zakład Produkcyjny w Ciechanowcu from the PKM Duda group, Zakłady Mięsne “PAMSO” SA in Pabianice, and Zakłady Mięsne “SKIBA” Andrzej Skiba from Chojnice.

A dozen or so labels have also been awarded to a producer of premium processed poultry-meat goods: Kutnowskie Zakłady Drobiarskie “EXDROB” SA in Kutno. This business’s award-winning products include szynka wiejska z gęsi (goose-meat countryside ham), kiełbasa z gęsi podsuszana (goose-meat dried sausage), polędwica łososiowa z indyka (turkey-meat cold-smoked loin salmon style). Płockie Zakłady Drobiarskie SADROB SA’s award-winning products include indyk w galarecie (jellied turkey loaf), kindziuk z indyka (turkey-meat kindziuk sausage), and szynka senatorska z indyka (turkey-meat senator sausage).

Polish Food: Tasty and Healthy

The quality, including the excellent taste and culinary value of Polish foodstuffs are appreciated by Polish buyers as well as large numbers of foreign customers. This is demonstrated by the success of the Polish food sector at trade fairs, as well as by the prestigious awards Polish producers receive on other occasions.

At any trade fair or exhibition involving Polish participants, Polish stands feature information on quality Polish food distinguished by the Try Fine Food label, and organic, traditional and regional products.

“The constantly growing exports of Polish agricultural produce prove that Europe and other international markets are increasingly interested in Polish foodstuffs. Poland is promoting its products more and more dynamically, expanding to new markets. For example, annual exports of Polish poultry have reached a record 400,000 metric tons. We hope that young Polish oat-fed geese, produced in line with EU and the Polish National Poultry Council regulations, will soon be as popular as American turkey” says Marek Sawicki, minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
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