NPA attacks EC labelling plans

The NPA has attacked the European Commission (EC) proposals that only the location of the last period of rearing, along with country of slaughter, be used on meat labelling.

The organisation says that despite honest-labelling demands from politicians and consumers, the EC’s will propose a scheme for country of origin labelling that doesn’t actually include country of origin.

The EC says that including the country-of-birth of pigs, sheep and poultry on the label would be too expensive.

The NPA says the approach will delight German pig finishers, who import millions of Danish and Dutch weaners every year. It means as long as the pigs have been in the country for two months, the meat can be labelled as German.

And if the Netherlands decides to pursue its earlier attempts to sell large quantities of weaners to Britain, the meat could also be classed as “United Kingdom”, and might even lay claim to British assurance scheme branding.

The Brussels plan will do little to satisfy consumer demands for shorter supply chains, following Horsegate, and little to improve transparency, the NPA added.

The EC will start selling its labelling proposals to member countries next week at a management committee meeting with industry representatives from member countries. It will claim that requiring mandatory country of birth labelling (as happens with beef) would require new traceability systems at farm level, creating unnecessary cost for producers and consumers.

It will also suggest a derogation for third countries to indicate “non-EU” for place of rearing where the information is unavailable. A further exemption would cover minced meat and trimmings, which could use “EU” and “non-EU” labels.

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