The food industry must improve the labelling found on meat and dairy products about food's country of origin, the government has said.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) became responsible for country of origin labelling, following the recent restructuring of the Food Standards Agency's responsibilities.
The EU is currently reviewing the rules for food labelling and is considering the introduction of new requirements on product labels. However, Defra have said it would prefer a voluntary response from those in the industry, but would like the fact that country of origin labelling is compulsory to remain.
On a visit to Melton Mowbray last week, food minister Jim Paice claimed that the labels found on meat and dairy was confusing for consumers and said that companies used the protected origin status 'to increase sales and consumer interest in the product.'
He told Packaging News: "I've written to the food industry leaders to emphasise that we want clarity and transparency for consumers who want to make a choice based on the origin of their food- particularly if they are buying British."
Barbara Gallani, the director of food safety and science at the Food and Drink Federation, said the organisation was currently in talks with Defra to develop a voluntary code of practise for the labelling of all meat and dairy products.
"We completely agree that consumers should not be misled with regard to the origin of food and our members are committed to providing honest labelling," she said.