New food labelling rules 'confusing for shoppers'

27th December 2013 - Fine Cut

New food labelling methods set to be rolled out in supermarkets across the UK could bring "massive confusion" for shoppers who want to buy meat that has been produced in Britain, two leading farming organisations have warned.

According to the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the National Pig Association (NPA), the European Union (EU) Food Information Regulation will make it more difficult for members of the public to buy British-produced items.

As part of the plans, the regulatory body is set to introduce mandatory labelling rules to inform shoppers where stock has been reared and slaughtered. However, the move has been met with criticism from the farming groups.

Both the NFU and the NPA believe that the rules should have been extended to cover where stock is born, reared and slaughtered. The two organisations claimed the move would increase consumer confidence in the quality of meat at a time when the industry is still under fire following the horsemeat scandal.

However, the organisations expressed worry that new labels could give the impression that a product was reared in the UK, when it was actually born in another country.

Meurig Raymond, deputy president of the NFU, said the body wants to see the British government and retailers take a "clear position" to safeguard the UK market due to the potential of misleading consumers on the use of flags on origins of meat.

The official added: "Since 2010, the country of origin industry voluntary guidelines, retailers and processors have been following good practice of origin labelling and any deviation from this undermines consumer trust and the integrity of British farmers.

"We hope they will continue to support consumer transparency and uphold the integrity of the UK and British brands."

Food labelling has been subject to a great deal of media coverage over the last few months, as consumers increasingly look for more information about the origins and ingredients of the items they purchase.

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