Benn calls for clearer labelling of meat

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has called on supermarkets and food companies to introduce country- of-origin labelling so shoppers can choose to buy British meat.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has called on supermarkets and food companies to introduce country-of-origin labelling so shoppers can choose to buy British meat.

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Benn urged people to "buy more British and eat more British" and said he planned to meet food industry representatives to discuss how they can "get ahead here by voluntarily introducing country-of-origin labelling."

"When you buy a car you know its service history. When you buy a house you get a detailed survey. So why do we accept knowing so much less about what we are putting into our bodies?" he said.

"Under current European regulations, a pork pie processed in Britain from Danish pork can legitimately be labelled as a British pie. That's a nonsense and it needs to change."

Benn told delegates that the UK government is pressing Europe to introduce mandatory country-of-origin labelling for meat, with details of where an animal is born, reared and slaughtered.

He praised the quality and quantity of food produced by British farmers and said that food security is a priority, adding that protecting the environment will be vital to increase future food production.

"The idea that protecting our soil, our water, our habitats, our landscape, and the very climate on which all of these depend, and encouraging production, are in competition with each other is to miss the point completely. Why? Because our long-term food security depends on looking after those things," he said.

"It's about looking after the land today to sustain our capacity to produce food tomorrow."

Benn added that he is arguing against EU proposals to restrict the use of certain ingredients in commonly used pesticides, saying that the regulation "could hit yields by limiting the crops that can successfully be grown in the UK for no recognisable benefit to human health."

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