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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Puts Meat on the Bone

The store has shiny counters, fresh cuts of beef and pork in refrigerated cases, neat piles of minced meat, and friendly shop assitants who provide you with a plastic bag -- but it is neither the Arbat Irish House, Stockmann, nor the Garden Ring.

Serna, formerly a dingy, smelly meat shop on Pyatnitskaya Street, has been transformed over the past two months into an upscale butchery as part of a European Union program to clean up and streamline Moscow's meat sector.

Valery Direktovich, director of the shop for four years, beamed with satisfaction at the shop's reopening ceremony Wednesday. His shop went private a year ago.

"If we are moving to civilized life we must have such shops," he said.

Bernd Czech, a team leader for the European Union's Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States program, or TACIS, said that during one experimental work day last week the shop sold 1,000 kilograms of meat, compared to 500 kilograms per day that it used to sell.

The shop's opening marked the end of the TACIS "Study of the Moscow Meat Sector," a $1.15 million project in which Western experts have given seminars on the meat industry to managers of farms, slaughterhouses, meat processing factories, retail outlets and organizations in charge of the meat business in the Moscow region, according to an EU statement.

"The seminars covered all aspects of work in the meat sector, from farm to consumer," the statement said.

A team of British, German and Irish consultants oversaw the refurbishment of Serna, repairing the cellar where the meat is delivered and stored and installing new refrigeration and meat-cutting equipment.

The consultants also worked with the shop's meat-cutters, showing them how to slice meat so that shapeless, dirty, half-bone, half-fat pieces would not hit the counter.

"It is much easier, more effective and less straining work now," said meat cutter Sergei Platonov, standing by a metal table in a white gown, green apron and a white hat.

He used to cut meat with a blunt ax on a stub of wood. Meat often fell down on the floor, and, when it reached the counter, filled the shop with a certain odor.

Platonov said that bones are now carefully taken away and sold at 200 rubles ($0.11) per kilo for dogs.

The shop sells beef supplied by Ramensky meat factory at between 4,500 and 6,000 rubles a kilogram. The usual price for a kilogram of beef in Moscow is 4,500 rubles.