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Meat and poultry

Meat and poultry from Europe come in a huge variety, both fresh and cured. As such, they are an ideal starting point for anybody wishing to embark on a journey to discover European cuisine.

Europe’s meat and poultry can also provide a fresh take on Mexican dishes or in developing a fusion between the two. What all EU meat and poultry products have in common are their tight standards of production safety, excellent quality, traditional production methods, and of course delicious flavours. Every bite is another step on a taste trip around Europe.

Just like in Mexico, meat and poultry play a big part in traditional European cookery.

Greeks, for instance, enjoy pork marinated with lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and garlic, then grilled on skewers over charcoal (souvlaki). A traditional Italian dish is pollo alla cacciatora, made with chicken in a flavour-packed sauce of tomatoes, wine, rosemary and juniper. Boeuf bourguignon is a robust and homely French stew containing beef, mushrooms, bacon, onions and red wine.

Europeans also love salted, smoked and dried meat, eaten hot or cold. A hundred kinds of sausage are to be found ranging from mild and juicy to highly spiced. For variety, why not try Chouriço de Portalegre (PGI), Spanish chorizo, or any of the diverse and tasty sausages from Hungary, Germany and Poland. Meanwhile, no breakfast in Ireland is complete without slices of fried black pudding, a sausage made from blood, pork fat and oatmeal.

Just like in Mexico, meat and poultry play a big part in traditional European cookery.Just like in Mexico, meat and poultry play a big part in traditional European cookery.

Krčki pršut (PGI) – easier to enjoy than to pronounce – is a traditional unsmoked ham from the Croatian island of Krk, made aromatic with pepper, rosemary and bay. Other delicious hams, ranging from sweet and succulent to dry and pungent, include Belgian Jambon d’Ardenne (PGI), Westphalian Ham from Germany, Prague Ham from the Czech Republic and Tiroler Speck (PGI) from Austria. Luxembourg is also known for its excellent pork and ham. So why not try some delicious EU ham or pork the next time you make carnitas or sinchronizadas.

Authenticity follows a rich farming tradition

Producing great meat and poultry means choosing the best animals, raising them to high animal welfare standards, and paying rigorous attention to quality and safety.

For a thousand years and more, European farmers have raised traditional breeds selected for the quality of their meat and their fitness for the local climate – from the shaggy cattle of the Scottish highlands to the acorn-fed forest-living pigs of Spain.

The origin of some of the meat and poultry is legally protected through the European Union’s labelling schemes, which set strict rules about where and how specific products can be made. Currently 185 kinds of fresh meat and poultry fall under the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and the even more stringent Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) – plus a further 210 types of ham, sausage and other meat products, of which 47 are covered in the EU-Mexico FTA.

Protected products include Belgian Viande de Blanc-Bleu (PGI), a naturally lean, tender and tasty beef, and beef from Hungarian grey cattle (Magyar szürkemarha hús, PGI), which is known for its gamey flavour.

Authenticity follows a rich farming traditionAuthenticity follows a rich farming tradition

From chilaquiles con pollo, to pollo con mole, chicken is a firm favourite on the Mexican dinner table. Some of Europe’s finest poultry comes from France, including chickens and turkeys from Bresse and geese from Anjou. So, next time, why not add a taste of Europe to your favourite Mexican chicken dish, with Coucou de Malines chicken from Belgium, for example.

Highest standards for quality and safety

Even for products without a coveted geographical label, the highest standards for quality and safety apply rigorously to all meat and poultry produced in the EU. Despite the huge variety of meat and poultry reared in Europe, all the EU’s 27 Member States share some of the world’s most stringent rules for food production and processing.

Healthy animals and plants, food hygiene, and control of contaminants are the principles that ensure the safety of food from the EU. Throughout the EU, harmonised registration systems are in place for farm animals to ensure effective disease prevention and control.

As a result, all EU meat is fully traceable. Every food business, from farms and factories to shops and restaurants, must meet strict EU food hygiene laws in terms of equipment, procedures and training. The EU also strictly controls contaminants in meat and animal feed, as well as hormones and antibiotics.

Nutrition claims on EU food labelling are also strictly regulated, so consumers get reliable and unbiased information.

Alongside concern for human health, the EU protects animal welfare and the environment. Standards are high, and strictly enforced. For those who wish to go even further, the EU organic label guarantees that meat has been produced as naturally and humanely as possible, with minimal impact on the environment.