Serbian meat: Raising food safety standards and preserving tradition, December 2017Serbian meat: Raising food safety standards and preserving tradition, December 2017

18 December, 2017

New regulations are set to improve food safety in the Serbian meat-processing sector while maintaining traditions and facilitating the trade of meat and processed meat products in the country.

The announcement was made by Serbia's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management at an event organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which gathered producers and other public and private stakeholder groups.

Over recent years, FAO and the EBRD have been supporting the Serbian government on food safety and quality standards with the aim of improving the competitiveness of meat products. The newly approved regulations on food safety include flexibility measures and derogations for small-scale meat producers, processors and distributors.

They will prove important in ensuring that small producers comply with food safety regulations and what’s more, they will encourage the continued use and preservation of traditional methods of production.

“This is an important development for our country’s meat industry as it will both raise food safety standards and preserve our production traditions,” said Branislav Nedimović, Serbia’s Minister of Agriculture and Water Management.

In support of the new regulations, which will come into force on 1 January 2018, the Veterinary Directorate of the Ministry, with the backing of the FAO-EBRD project, has produced guidelines for the implementation of the flexibility measures, which were presented for the first time at the event.

According to Tamara Boskovic, Head of the Veterinary Public Health Department, “These guidelines will provide clear benefits for producers and also for consumers, as they will give a seal of approval, guaranteeing not only the quality of products, but above all, their hygiene safety.”

They describe the general and specific hygiene requirements for food businesses involved in slaughtering, meat cutting and product processing, in compliance with principles of good manufacturing and hygiene practices, hazard analyses and critical control points (HACCP).

“Upgrading food quality and safety standards at all stages of the value chain will make for a stronger, more inclusive meat sector in Serbia, attracting more investment and helping the country’s smallholders stay in the market,” said Miljan Zdrale, the EBRD head for CSEE, Agribusiness.

The event was also an occasion to promote the new voluntary quality scheme for food and agricultural products in Serbia – the Serbian Quality Label – supported by the project. The label certifies the origin of animals and stipulates they must be fed by GMO-free feed, while products must exhibit three quality characteristics to be differentiated from similar ones on the market.

“The Serbian Quality label really will help differentiate products on the market. For Serbian meat  producers, compliance  with  higher  safety  and  quality  standards is becoming increasingly important if they are to be competitive, and to  broaden  export  market  opportunities  and  increase economic  returns  in  the  sector,” said Lisa Paglietti, an FAO economist.

The Serbian Meat Quality Label is currently managed by the Meat Quality Association and up to now four meat processors have been granted the right to use this label on some of their products. 

Serbia: flexibility and good hygiene guidelines: 

Serbia meat sector project page: 

Serbia quality label: 

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EastAgri is supported by FAO, EBRD, and The World Bank