In 2013, Europeans were alerted to the uncomfortable news that the beef in their burgers might actually be horsemeat. The shock that they had been eating mystery meat (and not the good kind) still lingers, and to this day, Europeans trust the meat industry about as much as they trust a guy in a plaid suit with a waxed mustache trying to sell them an '88 Citroën.
A new report from the European Commission measured how consumers in the European Union's 28 member states, Iceland, and Norway perceive various consumer goods, and found that Europeans consider the "meat and meat products" industry to be the second-worst industry out there in terms of trust, expectations, and incidence of problems and complaints. On the scale of distrust, the report places the meat industry at 80.6. At the bottom of the heap, at 75.6, is the used car industry—but beating out used car salesmen isn't exactly a ringing endorsement when it comes to customer satisfaction.
"In these markets, trust in providers is lower, consumers suffer higher detriment (financial, psychological or time loss), have a hard time comparing offers, are not happy with the choice available, and are left with unmet expectations," the European Commission said in a fact sheet accompanying the report.
The meat market is doing better over the past year, but the Commission believes the industry as a whole still hurts from the stain of the 2013 horsemeat scandal. The aftermath of that ordeal—which was tied to the disappearance of as many as 50,000 horses—is still being played out.
At the beginning of this month, after years of investigations, two Brits and a Dane (not a buddy comedy) were arrested for mixing horsemeat with beef in 2012. In December 2014, new food labeling laws came into effect that require the labeling of "country of origin or place of provenance for unprocessed meat of pigs, poultry, sheep and goats… and 'formed meat,'" and the European Commission now has a Food Fraud Network to help combat food issues like imposter meat.
It isn't just meat that Europeans view with skepticism. Fruits and vegetables score below average on the trustworthy scale, too, at 81.6—just one point better than meat. But the notion of some dirty vegetables pales in comparison to the idea of unknowingly eating ol' Buttercup from the pasture down the road. Hell, given the choice between mystery meat and a used car, that Citroën seems like a good deal.