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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » August 29, 2014
Polska... tastes good!
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More Beef on Polish Tables
August 29, 2014   
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A campaign promoting quality meat aims to encourage Poles to eat more beef.

Meat and meat dishes have always been popular among consumers in Poland. Surveys show that Poles are among the most meat-loving nations in the world. The average Pole eats 85.4 kg of various kinds of meats a year. But the popularity of beef dishes has drastically diminished over the past few decades.

This trend is slowly reversing and beef is beginning to make a comeback onto Polish tables. This is largely because consumers in Poland are increasingly interested in quality organic food, both regional and seasonal. And beef is an important natural source of nutrients such as complete protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B complex. Prepared in the right way, beef provides the body with large amounts of well-balanced proteins. The protein contained in beef has an optimum mix of amino acids, which makes it easily absorbed by the human body.

The most important minerals contained in beef are phosphorus and iron. A beef steak also meets the need for vitamin B12, which, if deficient, may cause neurological, hematological and psychiatric problems. Vegetarians and vegans are often advised to take this vitamin in tablet form. Moreover, beef contains other vitamins from the B group: B1 and B6. Nutritionists say that the most valuable beef comes from two-year-old animals but on the market there is also meat from dairy cows, older animals and calves. This last kind of beef is considered to be the most delicate in flavor.

There is more and more meat covered by food quality programs on the Polish market. This is in part because beef has been embraced by the European Union’s Quality Meat Program (QMP). This certification system aims to promote the production of quality beef. Certified beef is tasty and exceptionally juicy and tender, a quality it owes to rigorous controls at all stages of production—from feed selection to the proper transport of animals.

The QMP is a voluntary quality assurance system open to all producers and other players in the supply chain. The transparency of the system is guaranteed by Polish law and EU regulations. Every producer can be a member of the system if they meet the requirements. The QMP enables precise identification of beef at all stages of production, processing and distribution. In practice, this means that the entire production process in the case of certified meat—from the selection of the cattle breed to the animal feeding method to transport, slaughter, packaging of the product and storage—meets high standards and is carried out under the supervision of specialists. All this is designed to make sure that the consumer can be sure that meat with the QMP label had undergone strict inspections before it went on sale. The certificate guarantees that the meat comes from a trusted supplier and the entire production process is easy to trace.

To make the public aware of the benefits of certified beef, the Polish Beef Cattle Breeders Association launched a three-year promotional campaign in the fall of 2012. The campaign is co-financed from EU funds, the national budget and the Beef Promotion Fund and is expected to contribute to increased consumption of beef in Poland, because so far Polish beef has had a better reputation abroad than at home.

In the first year after Poland joined the EU Polish beef exports rose by a whopping 70 percent over the previous year. By 2013 beef and veal exports had grown almost fourfold. Last year Poland exported 340,000 tons of livestock, meat, beef products and beef and veal offal. About 75 percent of all beef and veal produced in Poland was sold abroad. The main buyers are other EU countries, which take in more than 80 percent of Poland’s beef and veal exports.
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