Consumers want country-of-origin meat labelling

Eight out of 10 people want country-of-origin labels on meat and poultry mainly so that they can buy British. New Which? research found the labels were also deemed useful for judging quality or simply because consumers were interested in knowing where food comes from.

The survey found that almost half the respondents thought it was very important that meat (47%) and poultry (46%) were labelled in processed foods. Another 63% thought it would still be useful if manufacturers provided more than one source for their ingredients in processed foods, such as 'chicken from Thailand and Brazil'.

The EU is set to discuss country of origin in Brussels this week. Which? wants the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to push for it to be mandatory for food companies to label food using the origin of all meats, poultry and dairy. Its chief policy adviser Sue Davies said: "This is an opportunity to make food companies provide clear information about the origin of products, so consumers can make informed choices about the food they put on their plates."

An FSA spokeswoman said it had recently revised its guidance to help industry provide helpful information to consumers. For example, it recommends that it should say on the label if bacon cured in Britain uses imported pork. "Initial findings [of our research projects] indicate that origin information is particularly important for some consumers but only on certain foods such as meat and meat products," she said.

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