EU Ministers back compulsory labelling laws

MANDATORY country of origin labelling on chicken, lamb and beef have come a step closer after EU Ministers voted in favour of the plans yesterday (Tuesday, December 7).

Country of origin rules currently only apply to beef, veal and fruit and veg but EU health Ministers agreed on draft regulations which would extend that to lamb, pork and poultry.

In addition, the draft could be extended it to include other products including milk, milk used as an ingredient, meat used as an ingredient, unprocessed foods, single-ingredient products, ingredients that represent more than 50 per cent of a food.

The move was warmly welcomed by the UK industry which had lobbied hard to introduce compulsory rules on country of origin.

NFU Scotland’s food policy officer, Wendy Fleming said: “Consumers deserve to know, in a clear and concise manner, the exact origin of their food.  

“What we can be pleased about today is a strong show of support by EU Ministers for more consumer transparency on origin labelling, with some calling for even more detailed mandatory requirements. We will have to take advantage of this momentum in the next stages of the decision making process.”

The text of yesterday’s vote will now be reviewed by the EU’s legal teams before it is adopted formally at the upcoming Council meetings before it is given a second reading, expected in June next year.

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said it was vital the rules are passed into law, to prevent consumers being misled.

He said: “Shopping trends tell us consumers want to support British farmers and buy more home-grown and home-reared produce. However the lack of transparency in labelling makes this difficult and it is clear to us that the current guidelines on food labelling simply aren’t working

“People buying meat and poultry products want to know where the animal was reared so they know exactly what they are eating.

“Consumers also want consistency in labelling across all sectors and they deserve not to be misled. Today’s political agreement is a big step in the right direction to achieving this.”

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