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Antibiotics new culprit in WWF meat guide

Updated måndag 30 maj 2016 kl 16.46
Published måndag 30 maj 2016 kl 14.15
WWF: We are eating twice as much meat today as we did in the 70s
(3:11 min)
Ann Richert of the WWF pointing out the rankings for different kinds of beef. Photo: Frank Radosevich / Radio Sweden.
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Ann Richert of the WWF pointing out the rankings for different kinds of beef. Photo: Frank Radosevich / Radio Sweden.
Hålan Wirtén, general secretary for the Swedish branch of the WWF. Photo: Frank Radosevich / Radio Sweden.
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Hålan Wirtén, general secretary for the Swedish branch of the WWF. Photo: Frank Radosevich / Radio Sweden.

The Swedish branch of the World Wildlife Fund released its second annual meat guide on Monday, in an effort to nudge consumers toward making more environmentally sustainable choices in their diets.

Much like the WWF's seafood guide, which has been published for several years, the meat guide aims to be a handy source of information for consumers concerned with buying the best meat for the environment.

The guide ranks different kinds of meat - from certified-organic lamb raised in Sweden, to pork imported from Germany - and stacks them up against each other in five different categories. Meat that should be avoided is given a red light, whereas those foods that should be eaten seldom or in moderation are given a yellow or green light respectively.

For unabashed carnivores, the guide will likely leave a bad taste in the mouth. Its main message is to eat less meat - about half as much as Swedes eat nowadays.

"We are eating twice as much meat today as we did in the 70s," the Swedish WWF's secretary general Håkan Wirtén tells Radio Sweden. "And this is not sustainable for the planet and it's not good for your health either."

The guide gives poor marks overall to imported, non-organic meats and poultry, and the only kind of meat to receive green lights across all five categories is wild game. The guide also includes information on plant-based meat replacements, like tofu, which score better than most animal products.

This year's guide features a new category on antibiotics, since their overuse in livestock and poultry has lead to a rise in so-called "super bugs", strains of bacteria that are resistant to all known kinds of medicine.

The Swedish Farmers Association praised the WWF for including information on antibiotic usage but took the environmental group to task for using what it says are outdated facts and old methodology for ranking meat, particularly those from Swedish farmers.

And the even broader question remains. Will Swedes dramatically reduce their meat consumption? Wirtén admits it can be a tough order to swallow.

"Some people find the message hard," he says. "People more and more are always interested in diets and what to eat, so I think the time is right for this kind of discussion."

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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