Move for clearer meat labels gains support

11th December 2013 - Fine Cut

European rules to introduce country of origin labelling rules for meat products have gained the support of a qualified majority of member states in the Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health.

As part of the measures, consumers in the European Union (EU) will be provided with more information regarding where the pork, sheep, goat and poultry they purchase as part of their weekly shop comes from.

It aims to allow individuals to make more informed decisions when buying meat products by taking into account the concept of "origin", "reared" and "slaughtered" by clearly defining these terms at EU level.

The proposal, which was reported by the Poultry Site, would introduce a compulsory labelling system that offers a link between a meat and the animal it was obtained from. Such a move would have considerable implications for companies in the food manufacturing industry, as it means they would have to adopt clearer labelling methods in order to comply.

Animals born, raised and slaughtered in the same country can be identified with the terms "Origin: Member State", while the rearing and slaughtering locations will be indicated on the label in other cases.

Set to be formally adopted by the European Commission in the near future, the proposal will be applied to industry from April 1st 2015 in order to allow the agriculture and food sector to adapt to the changes.

Rules regarding the country of origin already exist for fresh beef. Food Information to Consumers Regulation outlined in 2011 that a similar approach was needed for labelling other meats, which spurred the Commission to push for new rules at European level.

If the legislation is passed, the move is likely to have a significant impact on the manner with which consumers approach their food shopping, giving them more choice on the items they buy for ethical and other reasons.

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