War in Ukraine – Changes in the recipes of some products – News

Due to the war in Ukraine, a number of food sectors will not have sunflower products (oil, seeds, lecithin, meal). But the unforeseen substitution of other ingredients creates consumer education issues regarding allergy risks and the validity of product information.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to undermine French agriculture. These two countries supplied 80% of French imports of sunflower products: oil, lecithin, seeds and cakes. However, deliveries have been suspended and should not resume in the near future due to the impossibility for Ukrainian farmers to sow crops and European sanctions against Russia.

Therefore, it will be necessary to replace sunflowers with products derived from soybeans or rapeseed as soon as possible. For example, concerned about:

  • edible oils containing sunflower oil;
  • margarines;
  • foods cooked, breaded or fried in oil: chips, breaded fish, etc.;
  • recipes containing oil, lecithin or sunflower seeds: cookies and cakes, ready meals, groceries, etc.;
  • animal products (cattle, pigs, poultry, farmed fish) are guaranteed non-GMO. Ukraine has been a major supplier of non-GMO sunflower seeds and oilcake for livestock feed. Due to lack of availability, breeders will be forced to switch to GMO soybean meal. However, many quality traits (organic, Labels Rouges, AOP, free range or free range breeding) require exclusively non-GMO food in their specifications.

The risk of the allergen is indicated on the label.

As a result, the information on the packaging will no longer meet the requirements due to lack of promptness. Indeed, the delays between ordering new packaging and its delivery to the factory are large, at least several months. However, this replacement, which can be stretched out over one to two years, creates two lack of information problems for the consumer: mention of the risk of the allergen and the validity of the product information.

The Directorate General of Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF) has convened consumer, manufacturer and distributor associations to determine the action to be taken. With regard to the risk of an allergen, which is a potentially serious health risk, the relevant products must be immediately indicated by means of a sticker attached to each package informing about the change in the recipe. These are mainly cookies, cakes, chocolate and other products in which soy lecithin has replaced sunflower lecithin.

Alternatives on display and online

As for the reliability of the information in relation to the consumer, it may be delayed due to the lack of stickers and printers at the European level. In anticipation of a return to normalcy, the DGCCRF has planned a one-stop information website that will prevent consumers from receiving in-store information at the time of purchase. That’s why, in addition to updating recipes on retailers’ and manufacturers’ e-commerce sites, UFC-Que Choisir requests highly visible billboards in their respective departments outlining recipe changes and their effects on products. These proposals are currently being discussed between the DGCCRF, consumer associations and professionals in the respective sectors.

A free-range poultry that no longer goes outside

For poultry, this is a black streak that continues… Adding to the bird flu epidemic of unprecedented proportions is the shortage of non-GMO sunflowers. The virus ravaged farms in the Great West for a month after it ravaged farms in the Southwest. Thus, gallinids in these regions must be kept under buildings, including those with labels requiring the animals to be taken outside.

However, the derogations were confirmed by the Department of Agriculture in November 2021 so that the words “Red label”, “farmer”, “outdoor grown” or “freedom” may continue to apply. They were valid for 12 weeks for meat poultry and 16 weeks for laying hens.

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