Leadsom urged to act on country of origin labelling

Defra Leadsom

Defra Secretary Andrea Leadsom is being urged to take action on the lack of clarity over the labelling of processed meat and dairy products.

In a letter to Mrs Leadsom, the NFU, NFU Cymru, NFU Scotland and NPA said the move would give shoppers more choice and confidence when buying British food and increase transparency in the supply chain.

France is already implementing a two-year trial of country of origin labelling for meat and milk in processed products while other European governments have outlined plans to implement country of origin labelling for processed foods.

In a joint statement, the four organisations said: “More needs to be done to make labelling clearer and the NFU (relevant organisation) lobbies hard on this issue.

“We believe that the UK Government should move now to introduce origin labelling for meat and milk in processed products which would provide greater transparency.

“With the Brexit negotiations on the horizon, this could be the start of strong national legislation to ensure we have clear country of origin labelling in the future.”

“It is clear that some retailers and manufacturers feel origin is important by going above what is required in law and through voluntary principles. However, the inconsistency of voluntary commitment can sometimes be the source of confusion among shoppers.”

An NFU survey in May 2016, which found that 60 per cent of the public often or always look specifically for British produce when shopping for food.

The organisations have also expressed their concerns over the loss of food name protection as the UK negotiates a new deal with the EU post-Brexit.

They told Mrs Leadsom they wanted to see the continued use of food name protections in the UK, which guarantee authenticity and origin and prevents imitation products from using the name.

In a separate letter NFU Scotland has written to Scottish Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing requesting that the Scottish Government work with the UK Government to introduce mandatory country of origin labelling on processed meat and dairy products.

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