Meat labelling overhaul not necessary, say EU countries

28th March 2014 - Fine Cut

Much is being said about the need for an overhaul of food labelling, requiring that any meat product - be it fresh meat or a product that contains meat as an ingredient - clearly displays its country of origin.

However, it would now appear that many EU countries are questioning whether or not it is really worth the cost of carrying out such a revamp. At least, this was the outcome of a meeting of agriculture ministers held in Brussels earlier this week (March 24th), according to GlobalMeatNews.com.

British food minister George Eustice dismissed the proposals, saying he didn't feel it was a justified measure to take. "The costs are not proportional to the benefits and existing voluntary schemes have been shown to work well for UK consumers," he explained.

The problem of who would pay for the overhaul was highlighted in the European Commission December 2013 report, which revealed that, while consumers did want to know more about where their meat had come from, they were not willing to pay more money for this privilege. Accordingly, the funding for the aforementioned reforms would have to come from elsewhere.

It also predicted that implementing the legislation would bring about a 15 per cent rise in operating costs for food manufacturers - a bill that surveys made very clear shoppers would not be willing to foot.

This estimation was put much higher (50 per cent) by the Romanian agricultural minister Daniel Constantin, which led many countries to call for more rigorous investigations to be done into how much of a dent the legislation would actually leave in food companies' wallets.

"We don't know who would absorb the costs and, just as there is no such thing as a free lunch, there is no such thing as free labelling," commented EU health commissioner Tonio Borg.

Countries which spoke out against implementing the new legislation alongside the UK included Ireland, Germany, Luxembourg, Romania, the Czech Republic and Spain. Meanwhile, The Netherlands, Malta and Sweden were adamant this information should be included on food products. 

It would appear the debate is set to continue to rage for a while longer yet.

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