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Farm leaders call for clearer country of origin labelling

13th Sep 2016 / By Alistair Driver

A group of farming organisations, including NPA, is urging the Government to consider introducing mandatory origin labelling for meat and milk in processed products.

British labelIn a letter to Defra Secretary Andrea 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 introduce country of origin labelling for processed foods.

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: "Country of origin labelling has always been a hugely important - and often very frustrating - issue for the UK pig sector because of the level of import competition we face.

"We want clear unambiguous labelling that leaves consumers in no doubt where their meat comes from. 

"For years, the excuse has been Brussels and the restrictions placed by the EU on labelling by country of origin. After the EU Referendum vote there can be no more excuses.

“If the French and others can do it for processed meat products why can't we?" 

The call for Government action comes on the day that food labelling regulation is debated at a high profile event in Westminster.

Joint statment 

In a joint statement, the four organisations said more needs to be done to make labelling clearer.

“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.”

They cited 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.

The organisations said they wanted to see the continued use of food name protections in the UK that guarantees 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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