Dairy industry calls for new labelling

22nd August 2013 - Fine Cut

A group of UK dairy companies has called on officials in the European Union to tighten regulations regarding country-of-origin labelling.

In an open letter to the Daily Telegraph, the National Farmers Union, Dairy Crest, Dairy UK and the British Cheese Board said there is currently a "window of opportunity" to press for new requirements to be rolled out regarding where a product is derived from.

A spokesperson for Dairy Crest told just-food: "Unlike other food products... country of origin labelling is not mandatory on dairy products and we think that it should be.

"Many consumers want to buy British dairy products and support British dairy farmers. The current labelling arrangements don't ensure that they have the information to be able to do that."

The Food Information to Consumers Regulation requires the Commission to deliver a report to the European Parliament and the Council by the end of 2014. It is set to be prepared over the coming year, before being informed by an "impact assessment" scheduled to start in October.

Representatives from the dairy coalition are looking to start lobbying activity in the near future in a bid to influence the findings of the report. In particular, the group is concerned about imported products that are repackaged in the UK - hoping they will be allowed to carry the British flag.

The spokesperson said such a move would mostly be used to promote products as British that originate in Ireland. They went on to claim that dairy organisations hope to promote a "clear and honest" labelling system as a result of the changes.

It comes after figures published by Dairy UK revealed that Ireland accounts for 80,000 tonnes of the 100,000 tonnes of cheddar imported into the country. However, the official added that the coalition is concerned the impending end of the EU milk quota system will result in a rise in Irish producers increasing imports to the UK.

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