New report: Slow Food calls for an end to double standards in food imports – farmers and consumers have the right to fairness and transparency

21 Apr 2024

In a newly published report, Slow Food Germany calls on the EU to end the double standards applied to imported food and to use so-called mirror measures to ensure that imported food at least meets EU standards. Currently, consumers have no certainty about how food imported from third countries in the EU is produced. For example, genetically modified soy, beef from animals bred using antibiotics as growth stimulators, and fruit treated with highly toxic substances end up on our plates. An analysis of selected foods shows the negative effects on the health of people, animals and ecosystems in producer countries – especially in the global south – as well as unfair competition for local farmers.

Currently, consumers in the EU do not have the right to know what they are eating because: Even though the European Union has minimum standards for food production, imported food from third countries are not required to meet them. This means that, for example, imported fruit and vegetables have been treated with pesticides that are not approved in the EU. When it comes to animal-based food, consumers have no way of determining how the animals were raised, slaughtered and transported, as the producing countries often have no traceability or established animal welfare standards.

To demonstrate the existence of double standards and the enormous regulatory discrepancies between EU and imported products, Slow Food Germany conducted a case study on three foods: Beef, soy and apples. Some excerpts of the analysis of these three foods already show very clearly the negative effects of a lack of standards on people, animals and the environment, including pesticide poisoning, ecosystem contamination and theft of land and resources in countries in the global south, especially to the disadvantage of indigenous peoples. These three products highlight, on the one hand, the lack of transparency for European consumers regarding food imported into the EU, and, on the other hand, the negative health, social and environmental impacts on the producer countries.

Explanatory film: Same standards for all foods: The EU must demand mirror measures for imported food

Explanatory film: Same standards for all foods: The EU must demand mirror measures for imported food

The report makes the following policy recommendations:

  • Link access to the EU market to compliance with basic EU standards, e.g. by introducing a regulation to mitigate the environmental and health impacts of imported food, and by introducing mirror provisions in trade agreements relating to food.
  • Ensure that trade policies do not have a negative impact on the environment, livestock and human health, including in third countries.
  • Ensure that the complete traceability of farm animals from birth to slaughter required in the EU also applies and is present for imported animal foods from third countries.
  • Ensure that dangerous pesticides banned in the European Union are not produced for export; at the same time, ensure that no banned pesticides are allowed as residues in food on the European market, in compliance with the requirements of the EU chemicals strategy for sustainability.


With the publication of the » report and good publicity measures to raise awareness among consumers, Slow Food Germany is committed to ensuring that the transformation of the food import regime in the interests of uniform standards is given the highest priority on the EU’s political agenda. This is important for people, animals and the environment in producing countries, as well as for greater transparency and the health of consumers here. Especially against the background of farmers’ protests, the double standards for imported food can no longer be justified. Currently, European farmers in particular are complaining about the unfairness and lack of coherence of the rules that apply to domestic versus imported food. The EU should therefore urgently introduce mirror measures for EU imports from third countries.” "

- Nina Wolff, Chairwoman of Slow Food Germany -


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