EU votes for country of origin labelling

The European Parliament (EP) voted today to give the go-ahead for country of origin labelling to be extended to fresh meat from pigs, sheep, goat and poulty.

The new rules will also tighten up the law to ensure that shoppers are not being misled by the appearance, description of pictorial presentation of food packaging.

Meats, such as ham, which consist of combined meat parts must be labelled 'formed meat'.

However, the EP stopped short of making it obligatory for the packaging to list the country of origin for meat which is used as an ingredient. Although it has not ruled this out in future, it would have to conduct an impact assessment to determine the feasibility and the potential costs of implementing this policy.

MEP Renate Sommer, who led Parliament’s team in successful negotiations with the European Council, said: “Despite political and ideological differences in the European Parliament, despite national ideological convictions, we have come up with a good compromise. The new rules are supposed to provide more and better information to consumers so they can make informed choices when buying. But is more than that: the food industry should benefit too. There should be more legal certainty, less bureaucracy and better legislation in general.”

The commission will have to introduce implementing rules within two years of the regulation entry into force.

In addition to country of origin labelling, tables of nutrition values will be made compulsory on packaging, (expressed either per 100g, per 100ml or per portion) and allergens will have to be highlighted in the ingredients list so that shoppers can see them at a glance.  Allergen information is also being extended to non-packaged foods, for example foodservice, restaurants and canteens.

The NFU has welcomed the move. Meurig Raymond, NFU deputy president, said: “With mandatory country of origin labelling finally extended to lamb, pork and poultry, all British consumers will at last know where their fresh meat comes from.”

“We have been lobbying tirelessly in the UK, Brussels and Strasbourg for this result talking to UK MPs, MEPs, government officials, the WI, the food industry and European Commission officials.”

“We will continue to push hard for mandatory country of origin labelling on processed meat and dairy products.”

Under current legislation certain foods such as beef, honey, olive oil and fresh fruit and vegetables already include the country of origin.

>EU food labelling legislation falls short

>Voluntary country of origin labelling deemed insufficient

>Meat country of origin labelling principles agreed


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