UK pork labelling code unveiled

A final labelling code of practice for pork has been launched today (Tuesday) by Defra Secretary of State Hilary Benn at the NFU conference in Birmingham.

Major supermarkets and foodservice firms have endorsed the voluntary code, which is said to give clear and unambiguous information about country of origin on packs of pork, bacon and ham.

The final code has come about as a result of the Pig Meat Supply Chain Task Force, brought together by Defra and chaired by Food and Farming Minister Jim Fitzpatrick.

Speaking prior the conference, Benn said: "The only limitation on this new code is the way major retailers implement it, and I fully expect them to sign up to it – and then we've got what we're looking for."

Task Force member and Bpex and National Pig Association chairman Stewart Houston said: “Clear labelling is great news for everyone in the supply chain – easier choice for consumers and more sales of British pork products for the retailer, benefiting both the producer and the processor.”

The key aim of the code will be to ensure that the country of origin of the pork used in processed products will be clearly displayed on the pack. For example, the code says that terms such as ‘Produced in the UK’ can be ambiguous if origin is not qualified.

Companies adhering to the new code have committed to providing clear information such as ‘Produced in the UK using pork from country x.’

Production definitions, such as ‘outdoor bred’ and ‘outdoor reared’ are being finalised and an announcement on how these could be incorporated into labelling is expected in the near future.
The code of practice also covers the use of single country of origin descriptions and where pork from a number of different countries may be used. The key elements of country of origin include:

* A commitment to clearly display the country of origin on retail packs;
* Where single country of origin is displayed, it means that the pig was born, reared and slaughtered in that country;
* The term “produced in the UK” will not be used without qualification of the origin of the pork;
* The use of national terms and symbols (such as flags) will mean that the pork comes from that country;
* Product-specific terms such as Wiltshire Cure will mean that the pork used to make the product comes from within the UK. If not, the origin will be clearly stated;
* Imagery that could imply UK origin will only be used on UK-origin product, otherwise there will be a statement of origin on the pack;
* Foodservice outlets will make origin information readily available to customers, such as on the menu, in literature or on company websites; and
* Where the term “local” is used, it will be clearly defined.

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