An investigation by the environmental organisation Oceana Europe recently revealed that as much as 30% from a sample of 150 Brussels restaurants did not serve the fish that was listed on the menu. Following anonymous complaints that this also happens frequently with meat, The Brussels Times conducted a laboratory spot test on meat dishes served in Brussels restaurants. The initial findings show an alarming tendency to deceit customers. Two out of five tested samples of “100% beef burgers” contained a mixture of beef and pork.
The results from one of the tested samples indicated that the burger contained 30-60% “Bos taurus” (beef meat) and 30-60% “Sus scrofa” (pork meat)
Price saving is the most obvious reason why restaurants cheat their clients in this way. And for customers who for religious reasons refrain from eating pork, the tests come with an even more bitter aftertaste.
Imam Khalid Hajji, President of the Conseil Européen des Oulémas Marocains insists that this kind of behaviour should not be tolerated under any circumstances. “It is disrespectful to Muslims, Jews and other people who refrain from eating pork due to religious reasons. But not only that, it is simply immoral and deceitful, so it affects non-religious people as well. All the communities must work together against this.”
Rabbi Avi Tawil, Director of the European Jewish Community Centre, has become a vegetarian due to his concerns about animal treatment in Europe’s food industry. He stated that “beyond each one’s religious dietary needs, customers in Europe want to know what exactly they are eating. We also want to know what kind of treatment was given to the animals. The atrocities that are committed today in Europe’s food industry is unacceptable.”
“The way they are killed, which we see so much interest to investigate, is just the last moment of their miserable lives. We need to make sure that the dignity of their life is respected throughout all parts of their lives. These are the labels that I would like to see in the supermarkets. The recent investigations on meat is just the tip of the iceberg.”
The restaurant industry in Belgium is currently undergoing several changes and many owners are worried about the possible introduction of “smart cash registers” to combat undeclared revenues and VAT fraud. The industry is already notorious for hiring “black market labour”. The use has become such a standard that those playing by the book find it difficult to stay profitable in a very competitive industry.
An official working in the European Commission who frequents many restaurants in the EU quarter and speaking on condition of anonymity said that “in a country which has one of the most Michelin starred restaurants per capita in the world and whose citizens are spoiled with a rich culinary tradition, tighter tests should be reinforced to control what is actually on the menu.”
The Brussels Times
N.B. The sample size is too small to draw conclusions about the overall statistical significance of the results