Where does meat come from

Origin of food: where do meat, eggs & fruit come from?

It is important for many consumers to know where their food comes from. There is a legal obligation within the EU to indicate the origin of certain foods. You can then read from which country or region the product comes from on the packaging or on signs that are located directly on the food. Such an indication of origin is not mandatory for all foods and even if so, this indication is not always clear (e.g. for honey).

We show which foods you will be informed about where they come from and which foods remain in the dark.

Where does my meat come from?

In the case of packaged meat, you must find information on the label in which country or countries the animals were raised and slaughtered. This indication of origin is mandatory for meat from:

  • Beef
  • pig
  • poultry
  • sheep
  • goat

However, the designation of origin has gaps:

  1. Where the meat comes from only needs to be stated if it is unprocessed meat and minced meat. As soon as further ingredients are added, there is no longer any obligation to provide information about the origin of the meat.
  2. Is the meat not packed (e.g. for meat in service counters), the origin can remain completely in the dark. Exception: with beef.
  3. If it is not beef, there is a further restriction: With pork & Co., it has to be Country of birth not mentioned become.
  4. For Minced meat A special regulation applies: Here, in some cases - namely when it contains less than 50 percent beef - the information on the origin of whether the Animals in or outside the EU were raised and slaughtered.

Where does my fish come from?

For fresh fish, processed fish (e.g. frozen, salted or smoked) as well as for crustaceans and molluscs, this is a must Fishing area can be specified. Depending on the production method, you must be able to find one of the following information on the packaging:

  • "Captured" (followed by the fishing area)
  • "From freshwater fishing" (followed by the country in which the fish originated)
  • "From aquaculture" or "bred" (followed by the country in which the fish underwent its final development phase). If aquaculture takes place in several Member States or third countries, different countries can be specified accordingly.

However, the indication of the fishing area is very rough. In total, you can only differentiate between 12 fishing areas (so-called "FAO areas") for all fish origin information. A precise assignment is therefore not always possible. An example: Northeast Atlantic fishing area (FAO area No. 27).

The manufacturer may more precise information on a voluntary basis information about where the fish was caught (e.g. whether the fish was caught in the north-east Atlantic in the North Sea or the Biscay), but you as a buyer are not entitled to this.

For more processed products (e.g. breaded or marinated products, fish salad, etc.), on the other hand no corresponding labeling requirement. Example: While frozen saithe "natural" must be stated on the packaging from which fishing area it comes, you will not receive any information on breaded saithe fillet.

Where do my eggs come from?

In all countries of the European Union there is a uniform egg label with information on

  • Origin,
  • attitude
  • and freshness

of eggs required by law.

If eggs are packed and sorted according to quality and weight class, a must have stamped digit code (for example 0-DE-0500081) on the shell reveal where the eggs come from:

  • A "zero" (0) in the first place indicates the origin from organic production.
  • A "one" (1) in the first place stands for free-range husbandry.
  • A "two" (2) in the first place means floor farming.
  • A "three" (3) in the first place indicates that the animals were kept in cages.

In the next place, country abbreviations reveal the country of origin. DE stands for Germany or NL for the Netherlands.

In order to be able to trace the origin of eggs from sale to the stable, the final one shows seven-digit numeric codeon German eggs, the respective federal state and the corresponding farm and house number.

You can find out more about the labeling, origin and color of eggs here.

Where do my fruits and vegetables come from?

For most of the fresh fruits and vegetables, the producers or the trade have to tell you about the country of origin to inform. With a few exceptions: e.g. early and table potatoes, fresh bananas, olives, sweet corn, coconuts, Brazil nuts, dates, etc. This list is not exhaustive. There is also no labeling requirement for pickled or dried fruit.

The trader can voluntarily label these fruits.

Where does my honey come from?

If you buy honey, you must be able to find information on the jar about the country or countries of origin in which the honey was produced. If there is more than one country of origin, one of the following information can be given for honey:

  • "Mixture of honey from EU countries"
  • "Mixture of honey from non-EU countries"
  • "Mixture of honey from EU countries and non-EU countries"

With this information, however, you can neither identify the individual countries of origin nor the proportion of the individual honeys in the honey mixture. This indication of origin is therefore not very meaningful.

Processed food labeling

For processed products are basically no information on the country of origin required. Examples: Manufacturers of strawberry jam do not have to disclose where the processed fruit was harvested. The same goes for milk in yogurt.

In the case of processed products, even the manufacturer often remains unknown, through imprints such as "made for XY (name of the supermarket chain or discounter)". According to the regulations, only the packer or the seller can be specified instead of the manufacturer.

Labeling of regional products

Do you prefer food from your region? In some cases you can recognize this by the origin of the product on the packaging. However, specifying the region is voluntary. You can find out more about regional foods here.

Indications of origin protected throughout the EU

For certain traditional products, indications of origin are legally protected by EU-wide seals: protected designation of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indication (PGI).

  • Protected designation of origin - clear origin
    The EU label "protected designation of origin" provides clear information about the origin: Products with this seal must be produced, processed and manufactured within the EU, in a specified area and according to certain criteria.
    Examples: Allgäu Emmentaler or Parma ham.
    The label "protected designation of origin" can only be found in very few foods. You can find out what these are in the DOOR database for protected product names of the European Commission.
  • Protected geographical indication - statement unclear
    The EU-wide label "Protected Geographical Indication" indicates that one stage of production must take place in the area mentioned.
    Example: The pork for the Nuremberg Rostbratwurst could come from Denmark or the Netherlands and only the sausage production takes place in the region.

This content was created by the joint editorial team in cooperation with the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer center for the network of consumer centers in Germany.