File photo: Anders Wiklund/TT
File photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Growing pressure on restaurants to state meat origin

"I think for some customers it's about animal welfare."
2:17 min

Meat in Swedish grocery stores is always marked with its country of origin, but the situation is different when eating at a restaurant. Only a minority of eateries clearly state this information on their menus and now an increasing number of voices want to see a change.

In an op-ed piece published by Swedish newspaper Expressen last month, Consumer Affairs Minister Per Bolund and Rural Affairs Minister Erik Bucht said Swedish restaurants should make this information available to their customers. The ministers argued that other countries like France already have a similar regulation.

Visita, the trade and employers organization for the Swedish hospitality industry, supports the idea. Sara Sundqvist, food expert at Visita, explains that knowing the origin of the meat is important for many customers.

"I think for some customers it's about animal welfare, for others it's because they prefer Swedish meat, or maybe they're just curious, in the same way I'm curious about where the wine comes from," Sundqvist tells Radio Sweden.

The hospitality organization does not think it will be difficult for the restaurants to adapt, if the government finally decides to introduce a new regulation. They say most restaurants already know where their meat comes from and just need a few guidelines as to how to make this information available to their customers.

"They really don't know how to tell. They wonder: Is it alright to tell in a certain way or is there something wrong if I tell in a certain way?" Sundqvist says.

Mikael Malmberg owns two restaurants in Stockholm's old town together with his brother. One of them, Grill Ruby, specializes in grilled meat. Malmberg says it would not be difficult for them to make this information available on their menu.

"No, because we know where it comes from. It's printed on the boxes and the invoices," Malmberg explains.

He says customers show a growing interest in the origin of their meat.

"Since the mad cow disease, more and more people ask where the meat comes from," Malmberg says.

In their joint op-ed piece, the ministers said that they see a "voluntary compliance" from the restaurants as the best solution, but if the sector does not respond, they will be ready to test other alternatives to meet the demands of Swedish consumers.

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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