COOL labelling changes not finalised, says European Commission

Stories floating around in the media about country of origin labelling (COOL) changes are “incomplete theories”, the European Commission (EC) has told

Reports of a ban on using origin labelling on meat packs were quashed by the Commission on Tuesday (17 September). “The proposals aren’t finalised. The Commission is still in discussion and there are a lot of incomplete theories out there at the moment,” an EC source said.

However, according to the National Pig Association (NPA), the Commission is looking at rules which would inhibit origin information. EC proposals being discussed indicate that labels will only need to show where the animal was reared and the country it was slaughtered.

NPA general manager Dr Zoe Davies told “Reared only covers the last two months of the animal’s life, so it could come to pass that a pig was born in the Netherlands and brought over here to be finished and then legally be able to be labelled as British on pack – not something we are keen on.”

Yet, in line with comments on Tuesday, an EC spokeswoman told that discussions on what information must appear on the labelling of certain fresh meat products (sheep, goats, poultry and pigs) were still ongoing between EC officials and member states. As a result, “no final decision on the measures has been reached”.

It was further stated: “The Commission has suggested that ‘country of rearing’ and ‘country of slaughter’ are identified on labelling because consumers put greater value on these matters, rather than where an animal is born. Also, ‘country of rearing’ has more relevance from a quality and economic perspective in the production process.”

The spokeswoman also explained that the EC wanted consumers to have "comprehensive and accurate information” about the meat they buy, but without additional costs to the industry.

She also reiterated that consumers would continue to see the Union Jack and Red Tractor logo on products from the UK. “Press reports suggesting otherwise are simply wrong,” she added.

However, it was confirmed that the rearing of beef was likely to take place in more than one EU country, “given the historical background of BSE and the fact rearing times are longer”, she added.


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