Call for country-of-origin labels on processed meat

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has called on the European Parliament to make country-of-origin labelling mandatory on processed meats.

The call comes as EU ministers prepare to legislate on food labelling, with European Parliament’s ENVI and AGRI committees due to discuss regulation on the provision of food information later this month.

Pointing out that many foods, such as beef, eggs, fruit and vegetables and wine, already have country-of-origin labelling, NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said that the practice should be extended to processed foods, such as ham.

“Labelling needs to provide accurate, clear and relevant information, so that consumers can make an informed choice. People who want to buy great British food want to be certain that that is exactly what they are getting,” he said.

“Consumers want consistency in labelling across all sectors and we believe there is no reason why mandatory country-of-origin labelling should not be extended to the remaining sectors as well as to the main ingredients of semi-processed foods.”

Raymond pointed to a recent Which? survey, which revealed that 80% of people thought that country-of-origin labelling was important for meat and poultry. The survey also showed that consumers believed it was important for product labels to show where meat was bred and reared (74%) as well as where it was produced and processed (77%).

“The current guidelines are clearly not working. There are loopholes in the current legislation leading to clear cases of misleading labelling – such as giving the last place of processing (for example for ham) and the place a product was packed in (for example for cheese) – that finally need to be tightened up,” he said.