Benn joins calls for country of origin labelling

Environment secretary Hilary Benn has warned that misleading meat labels are threatening Britain's food security.

In an interview with The Independent, Benn said that by labelling imported meat which is processed in Britain as 'produced in the UK', supermarkets are undermining the government's efforts to encourage people to buy more British food.

He added that the government is currently lobbying to get European rules on meat labelling changed.

"If you buy something that has on the package 'Wiltshire cured bacon', I think most people would assume the bacon came from Wiltshire, but under the current European rules that is not necessarily the case. You may turn it over and discover that actually it came from Denmark," he said.

"So, we are pressing strongly in Europe... because consumers are not getting clear information."

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver raised the issue of labelling during his recent documentary, Jamie Saves Our Bacon, which was screened on Channel 4 last week (29 Jan).

The chef used a consumer test to demonstrate how misleading labels can be and discussed the issue with Farming minister Jane Kennedy and Shadow Agriculture minister James Paice.

Both ministers said they would support mandatory country-of-origin labelling for meat products sold in Europe.

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