Wageningen University & Research (WUR), the Netherlands-based public research university, has been awarded €6.5 million of EU funding to conduct research into the links between animal welfare and meat quality.
The mEATquality project forms part of a slew of multi-million euro projects that make up the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme.
The WUR team chose pigs and poultry to study for the project as they are farm animals that are most likely reared both on intensive and extensive systems
Project coordinator Hans Spoolder (Wageningen Livestock Research) at mEATquality said: “We want to know whether the meat from pigs and chickens in extensive livestock systems tastes better than meat from intensive livestock systems, for example because the animals can move around more or are given different feed.”
The European Commission will also use the research findings as an additional way to way to identify fraudulently marketed organic meat. “There is a lot of money to be made in organic farming, and it’s always when there is money to be made that it’s tempting to commit fraud,” says Spoolder.
The researchers will also try to establish whether the origin of the meat can be fully traced. “There’s a lot of money in organic livestock. If you can see exactly where a product was made, you can combat fraud.”
The four-year project is expected to start this August.