The war in Ukraine – changing recipes in some foods – news

Due to the war in Ukraine, many food sectors lack sunflower products (oil, seeds, lecithin, meal). But unexpected substitution with other ingredients poses problems with consumer information, regarding allergy risks and the fairness of the information on the product.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia continues to disrupt French agriculture. These two countries provided 80% of French imports of sunflower products: oil, lecithin, seeds and cakes. However, deliveries are on hold and should not be resumed any time soon, due to the impossibility of Ukrainian farmers planting crops, and European sanctions against Russia.

So it will be necessary to replace sunflower on short notice with products derived from soybeans or rapeseed. They are for example concerned:

  • edible oils containing sunflower oil;
  • margarine;
  • Foods that are cooked, breaded, or fried in oil: French fries, breaded fish, etc. ;
  • Recipes containing oil, lecithin, or sunflower seeds: cookies, cakes, takeaways, groceries, etc. ;
  • Animal products (cows, pigs, poultry, farmed fish) are guaranteed GMO-free. Ukraine has been a major supplier of non-GMO sunflower seeds and cattle feed cakes. Due to the lack of availability, breeders will have to resort to genetically modified soybean meal. However, many quality labels (Organic, Labels Rouges, AOP, Free Breed or Free Breed) exclusively require non-GMO foods in their specifications.

The risk of allergens is indicated by the label

As a result, the information on the packaging will no longer be compatible, due to the lack of response. In fact, the delays between ordering a new package and having it delivered to the factory are long, at least several months. However, this substitution, which can extend over one to two years, poses two problems of lack of information to the consumer: the mention of the risks of allergens, and the fairness of the information on the product.

The Directorate General of Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF) brought together consumer associations, manufacturers and distributors to determine the measures to be taken. With regard to the risk of allergens, which represent a potential serious health hazard, there must be immediate presentation of the products concerned, through a label affixed to each package to inform the recipe modification. These are mainly biscuits, cakes, chocolate and other products in which soy lecithin has replaced sunflower lecithin.

Alternatives by presentation and the Internet

In terms of fairness of information towards the consumer, this may be delayed due to the lack of labels and printers at the European level. Pending a return to normal, DGCCRF has planned a single information site but will not allow in-store consumers to be informed at the time of purchase. For this reason, in addition to updating recipes on the e-commerce websites of retail chains and those of manufacturers, UFC-Que Choisir requires clearly visible billboards in the respective sections, indicating changes in recipes and their consequences for products. These proposals are currently being negotiated between the Directorate General of Climate Watch and associations of consumers and professionals in the sectors concerned.

Pasture-free poultry is no longer running out

For poultry, it’s a continuous black streak… The lack of non-GMO sunflowers is adding to the avian influenza epidemic of unprecedented magnitude. The virus wiped out farms in the Great West for a month, after farms in the Southwest were emptied. Consequently, gallinates in these areas are subject to confinement under buildings, including those with labels that require animals to be moved outdoors.

However, the exceptions were ratified by the USDA in November 2021, so that the words “Red Label”, “Farmer”, “raised in the open air” or “Freedom” can continue to be affixed. They were valid for 12 weeks for poultry meat and 16 weeks for laying hens.

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