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The global trend for new and interesting food means people’s food tastes are becoming increasingly varied. Consumers want safe, high quality products, and tender meat that’s juicy and aromatic – qualities for which European pork and beef is ranking highly.
European roasted pork loin, boiled bacon, smoked meat products, gammons, kabanos sausages, pates and pork loins, are all unique, with gourmands worldwide noting that the high quality of European pork and beef products have made them a notable speciality on a global scale.
High cultural diversity and the rich tradition of meat processing mean there are now over ten thousand different meat products created throughout the European Union, much of which is consumed outside of the continent. The meat manufacturing industry is strictly regulated for quality and safety, and products made in the EU are meticulously scrutinised. Integrated systems managing the quality of manufactured products are in place throughout the continent, thus guaranteeing all food products that reach consumers’ tables are certified safe.
Quality and safety combine to create excellence
To guarantee the high quality and safety of pork and beef products, EU producers practise ‘European Norms’ (EN), ‘International Norms’ (ISO) and ‘State Norms’, but they also use management systems such as: System of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), Good Manufacture Practice (GMP), Good Hygienic Practice (GHP) and Good Agricultural Practice (GAP).
The whole meat production process is supervised by veterinary and sanitary services. Moreover, all producers have their own individual factory norms (formulas), according to which they manufacture their products and define them in line with the technological norm on the label. Product labelling enables its full traceability. Information concerning the type of used meat, the producer, batch number and the use by date, is the basis which provides consumers with a guarantee that the food is safe for eating.
The strict standards of production for pork and beef products required in the member states of Europe not only ensure meat quality is consistently high, but also bring many other benefits for consumers and retailers. In response to the high expectations of the market, pork and beef producers use high-quality raw materials to produce their meat.
Another advantage stemming from an adherence to the EU production standards for meat products is the limited use of technological additives and the guarantee of the source of origin and composition of animal feeds used for farming. It is worth highlighting that in the EU it is prohibited to use antibiotics and growth hormones in animal feeds. All these elements combine to ensure the pork and beef that reaches consumers’ tables is of high quality.
Tradition and variety
One of the European Union’s priorities, which must be fulfilled as part of the Quality Policy, is the cultivation of local traditions and customs. In the EU member states, special regulations are in place that promote food products which are manufactured using traditional and unique methods and local ingredients. These regulations have introduced protected names and labels to guarantee these products’ quality and consistency. Because of the regulations, EU producers have the opportunity to sell their unique products, not just locally but also within the European and global markets.
The use of traditional manufacturing methods in the production of European pork and beef products enables the creation of varied products that have a unique taste and aroma. Among traditional and regional products made of those kinds of meat, the following can be distinguished: sausages (e.g. white sausage, farmer’s sausage, juniper sausage, meat spread, home-made sausage, country sausage), hams, brawns, gammons, bacon, pork fat, liver sausage, blood sausage, smoked meat, loin, pate, leg, knuckle and neck.
European pork and beef products enjoy popularity all over the world. However, it is as a direct result of these meat processing methods, and the quality of the raw European pork and beef materials, that make EU sausage products unique.
Sixteen years ago, seven-year-old Sarah Goss excitedly packed her bags and travelled from her home town of Palmerston North to Taupo, to take part in her first ever Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon – a decision that changed her life.
At 23, the kid who featured on the front of a Weet-Bix box is now Captain of the New Zealand Black Ferns Rugby Sevens team that brought home a silver medal from the 2016 Rio Olympics – and she says the Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon was an integral part of her journey.
‘The Weet-Bix TRYathlon gave me a great foundation for my career. I was a pretty active kid, but my parents were farmers so we didn’t have a sporty ‘life’, as such – we kept active by helping out,’ explains Sarah, who is now a full-time professional rugby player for the Black Ferns Sevens and one of New Zealand’s top sporting women – in 2016 she was named NZ Player of the Year, and was a finalist for International Player of the Year.
‘I saw the TRYathlon advertised but there wasn’t an event in Palmy so I asked my parents if they’d drive me to Taupo so I could participate, and they did.’
While Sarah doesn’t remember much about the details of her first TRYathlon, she does recall the feelings that inspired her to participate twice more, and then go on to pursue a career in professional sport.
‘I’m competitive, but it was never about winning – I absolutely loved the idea of being part of this massive event, where I was surrounded by other kids doing the same thing, and being cheered on by so many people. Parents, friends, helpers, locals – they are all so supportive. It made me feel fantastic – it’s incredibly inspiring. I also remember really wanting to win a spot prize – but I never did’
While the event consists of three sports – cycling, swimming and running – Sarah says that while she was playing netball and swimming at school, she didn’t train prior to the event. ‘I’d never have trained back then – I was such a lazy kid!’ she laughs.
‘I just liked the idea of doing something as part of a group. I also loved swimming in the lake at Taupo, as we used to go there every year on holiday. That was a real highlight for me. But my main goal for the TRYathlon was simply just to finish it, and to know I’d accomplished something.’
Sarah went on to do another two TRYathlons – but it was at that first life-changing TRYathlon that she caught the eye of the Sanitarium team. ‘I came home from school one day, and my granddad told me Sanitarium had rung to ask if they could put me on the front of a Weet-Bix box, and he’d said yes,’ she says.
‘None of us were sure if he was telling the truth, so we just carried on. Then a few weeks later we were away for the weekend, and took a trip to the local supermarket. We went down the cereal aisle – and there was my face on the Weet-Bix box! We had honestly thought Granddad was joking!’
As Sarah grew, so did her competitiveness, and after honing her skills at boarding school in her teens, Sarah began concentrating on her rugby career – at exactly the right time. ‘I wanted to keep achieving, and I had a lot of friends who were playing rugby. I loved it – and then it became an Olympic sport so that’s the path I chose.’ She is currently training regionally before the series kicks off in December, and is looking to the next big goal – the 15th Rugby League World Cup in August 2017. And it all started with the Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon.
Although she’s added to her collection since then, Sarah still has her Weet-Bix TRYathlon medals at her parents’ house. ‘My parents still have the picture of me on the box too!’ she laughs. And she is very much looking forward to seeing the next generation of kids feel the excitement and sense of accomplishment she felt as a kid.
‘The Weet-Bix TRYathlon is incredibly inspiring – it still inspires me,’ says Sarah, who will be at several of the 16 TRYathlon events around the country, over the coming summer. ‘It made me want to keep active, and made me want to be in a team sport. The enjoyment of having so many people around you, supporting you, is great – and you get a free T-shirt and medal.’
Sarah’s Top TRYathlon Tips
- Give it a go. Ask your mates if they’d like to do it with you, so you can support each other.
- Encourage others to give it a try. The sense of accomplishment at the end far outweighs the pain!
- Start small when training. Don’t try to do everything on the first day. Do a little bit of everything, often.
- Set yourself your own goals. TRYathlons aren’t about winning – they are about participating and accomplishing your targets.
- Have fun!
Local innovations from one of NZ’s largest pharmaceutical companies including the translation of asthma materials into te reo Māori, partnerships with aid groups, and increased access to vaccines through reduced pricing are the type of initiatives that have helped the company rank first place in the Access to Medicine Index for the fifth consecutive time, according to its NZ general manager.
The Index, a global initiative which is funded by Bill Gates’s charitable foundation and the UK and Dutch Governments is an independent measure of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies’ efforts to improve access to healthcare in developing countries. GSK has topped the Index, which ranks individual companies on their performance across seven categories, each time since its launch in 2008.
GSK’s NZ general manager, Anna Stove, says the company was recognised for its clear access to medicines strategy; leadership in research & development, pricing, manufacturing and distribution; and product donations.
Stove says innovations to increase access to medicines in NZ included the local respiratory team translating the Asthma Control Test – a widely used tool to measure asthma control – into te reo Māori.
“We know in New Zealand that patient outcomes for asthma are worse for Māori and as a company we wanted to ensure we were doing everything we could to better educate Māori patients, and their whanau on how their lives could be improved by appropriate use of medication,” says Stove.
The same company also donated more than $330,000 worth of critical medicines as part of a relief effort into Fiji following Cyclone Winstone.
In addition to the donation of medicines, GSK’s global health programmes team provided funding to Save the Children Australia who are leading the organisation’s response to this crisis.
Stove says funding provided by GSK supported the costs associated with running Child Friendly space for 4 – 6 weeks, in addition to paying to rebuild vital water, sanitation and hygiene facilities at schools.
Stove also points to the company’s commitment to provide better access to vaccines through reduced pricing in developing countries in Asia.
Commenting on the 2016 Index, GSK CEO Sir Andrew Witty says:
“For the last decade, our commitments to widening access to healthcare have been recognised by the Access to Medicine Index. This is testament to everyone at GSK, and our partners, who strive every day to research, develop and deliver innovative medicines and vaccines. These efforts mean that more children in the poorest countries are being immunised against deadly diseases; more patients can receive the HIV and asthma medicines they need; and essential healthcare is reaching the remotest communities.
“The fundamental changes we have made to our business model enable us to make our products as available and affordable as possible while generating the returns we need to sustain our business and invest in research. But we cannot stand still. Increasing access is a complex and ongoing challenge, which is reflected in this year’s Index being more demanding than ever. As a business, and an industry, we must push ourselves to go further and faster in strengthening access to healthcare. This is a challenge that we are ready and willing to take on.”
Since the last Index in 2014, GSK has taken further steps to widen access, including:
- Expanding the graduated approach to patents and intellectual property to widen access to medicines in the world’s poorest countries.
- Their malaria candidate vaccine received a positive scientific opinion from European regulators for use in the prevention of malaria in young children in sub-Saharan Africa.
- In an effort to widen access to dolutegravir – the company’s newest HIV medicine – the HIV business ViiV Healthcare extended its existing licence agreement for the adult formulation of dolutegravir with the Medicine Patent Pool to cover all remaining lower middle-income countries, meaning that an additional 270,000 people are covered by the licence which includes more than 94% of adults living with HIV in the developing world.
- Advancing their Africa Open Lab to support research into non-communicable diseases and collaborating with African universities to build skills and capabilities.
- Introducing equitable pricing strategies for more products, covering a broad range of diseases including HIV/AIDS, lower respiratory diseases, asthma and pertussis.
- Reaching 1.3 million children in some of the world’s poorest countries through their Save the Children partnership. This includes treating children for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea; and reaching children with vaccines.
Advancing research into potential new antibiotics and signing up to industry-wide commitments setting out commitments to reduce the development of antimicrobial resistance, invest in R&D and improve access to antibiotics.
These initiatives build on deep-rooted changes we have made to our business model to drive sustainable access and innovation; to encourage collaborative research into diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries; to support communities to strengthen their health systems; and form partnerships with governments, NGOs and other companies to amplify our efforts.
The 2016 Index described GSK as the most access-oriented company. GSK achieved an improved score on the 2014 Index and was ranked among the top three in all but one of the seven categories. The Index particularly recognised our efforts to implement equitable pricing strategies for more medicines and our long-standing commitment to developing products and technologies for the benefit of global health. The Index also recognised that we have significantly changed our commercial model to lead the industry in modernising the way we sell and market our medicines. We have stopped paying doctors to speak on our behalf and our representatives no longer have individual sales targets.
Since our submission for the 2016 Index was filed, we have taken further steps to strengthen access to medicines and vaccines. These include offering to extend our lowest price for pneumococcal vaccines to internationally recognised civil society organisations who are funding and delivering immunisation programmes for refugee communities where governments are unable to do so.
After taking a bit of time out to soak up their achievements in Rio, Olympic medallists Luuka Jones and Sam Meech have set their sights on their next big challenges.
Jones, whose silver medal in the K100 Canoe Slalom was one of the Games’ nice surprises, will chase double glory in Tokyo in 2016, while bronze medallist Laser sailor Meech is out to conquer a massive 200+ boat world championships fleet.
Both will be powered by Sanitarium’s Up & Go after linking with the company in a promotion that will provide a money-can’t-buy experience for two lucky Kiwis.
“For me at the moment life is busy, so having an Up & Go to just pick up and know you are getting a good nutritional boost before or after training is pretty handy,” says Jones.
“My training involves just the physical side of things but the mental side as well. You’ve got to fuel yourself for both physical and mental gains. So nutrition is hugely important. Nutrient timing, making sure that you are fuelled enough for your session and then to recover from your session, is crucial. You do notice when your nutrition is on point and when it is not. I do suffer on the days I where I am not as stringent.”
Meech is also a big Up & Go fan (like Jones his favourite flavour is vanilla).
“I do group bike rides around the North Shore that start at 5.30am,” he says. “I try to wake up five minutes before I have to leave, so an Up & Go is perfect as I’m rushing out the door.
“My flatmate was a professional swimmer and he used to buy huge boxes of it because he’d be up so early to go to training. I used to sneak them off the shelf. But now he has stopped swimming I have to buy my own!”
Thanks to Up & Go producer Sanitarium, one lucky Kiwi will win a white water experience with Jones.
“Hold on tight and don’t fall out!” is Jones’ advice to whomever gets the chance to tackle the rapids with her at Auckland’s Wero Whitewater Park.
“I’ve taken a couple of people down the course at Wero and it is really exciting,” she says. “It is exciting for me to give someone else a taste of what I do. And I guess it is exciting for them because it is such a changeable environment. There is a lot going on out there and being white water it is pretty powerful and exhilarating.”
The reward for another lucky Kiwi will be a day out on the water with Meech. Squeezing on board his solo-sailed laser might be a be bit tight, but Meech has something cool up his sleeve that he isn’t quite ready to reveal.
Changes to Olympic rules mean Jones will now be able to compete in both a canoe (where you kneel on the craft and have a single bladed paddle as opposed to sitting in a kayak and using a double-bladed paddle, she explains) and the kayak discipline in which she meddled in Rio.
Chasing success in two disciplines may be a challenge, but it is one the 28-year-old is up for.
Her medal in Rio may have surprised a few people but Jones herself was confident she could land a place on the podium.
Moving to Nottingham, England at the age of 18 to train alongside the English squad as a full-time athlete was the key to her success.
“It made a huge difference, learning how to be a high performance athlete and being able to dedicate every day to getting better.
“I knew that I was capable of doing that and so did my coach and people around me in the sport. But it was quite nice to be an underdog going into the Olympics. There were too many people putting their hopes on me for a medal.”
That certainly won’t be the case in Tokyo in 2020.
Meech, meanwhile, is taking things year-by-year. The 25-year-old’s next goal is to win a world championship – an even tougher ask than medalling at the Olympics as countries can have more than one competitor, swelling the fleet to over 200 world class sailors.
If anyone can do it, though, it is Meech. Having spent much of his childhood (aged 7-12) on a yacht sailing around the world with his parents and Sister Molly (also a medallist in Rio in the 49er-FX class), Sam’s background could hardly be more nautical.
“Mum and Dad did most of the sailing, Molly and I were just along for the ride,” he says.
That changed when the Meech family returned to settle in New Zealand.
After a stint in land-locked Hamilton – when they got their sailing fix on the city’s lake – the family relocated to Mount Maunganui, with the siblings diving straight into competitive racing.
Sam quickly graduated from the P-class to the laser – and never looked back.
“The laser is the boat that you see at people’s baches,” he said. “The boat I race is exactly the same. It is the most competitive class of racing. That’s why I love it.”