EU proposes new labelling rules

The European Commission has revealed proposals to introduce Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) laws within the European Union for unprocessed meat products (including bacon).

The proposals will require products to carry a label giving the country of slaughter and the last country in which the animal was reared for at least two months. The labels would not have to list the location of the animal’s birth.

BPEX’s Pig Market Weekly reports that by leaving the location of the animal’s birth off the label and only listing the country where the animal was finished, it could still be possible for pork from some imported animals to be marketed as British.

In 2012 the UK imported nearly 700,000 live pigs, although nearly 90% of these were coming for slaughter in Northern Ireland from farms in the Republic of Ireland and could not be labelled as reared in the UK. In theory, livestock from foreign producers could still be used without sacrificing the valuable ‘British pork’ label, provided they were finished in the UK.

However, pork from these animals could not carry the Red Tractor logo unless the breeding farms were approved by the scheme; few, if any, non-UK pig farms are currently Red Tractor approved.

This move from the EU comes at a time when confidence in the food supply chain is low following the horsemeat scandal.

A recent One Poll survey revealed that 78% of consumers wanted supermarkets to stock more British food. The same survey stated that 42% were more likely to buy more traceable food produced on British farms following recent events. 

A vote on the new proposals is expected to take place in November with an agreement needed by December 2013. The proposals are set to come into force in December 2014.

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