Richard Ashworth, Conservative Agriculture spokesman and MEP for South East England, has called upon the Commission for mandatory country of origin labelling to be extended to some dairy and meat products.
Currently there are EU mandatory country of origin labelling requirements in place for fresh beef, swine, sheep, goat and poultry meat as well as a variety of other foodstuffs. These rules mean that the products covered must clearly and consistently note the country of where the food was produced on its packaging. However currently there are no compulsory country of origin labelling requirements for other meats or any milk and dairy products.
The European Parliament has backed a resolution calling upon the European Commission to bring forward plans for information on where raw materials are sourced to be made mandatory on milk and lightly processed dairy and meat products such as cheese, cream, bacon and sausages.
This would rebuild consumer trust following recent food scandals, enable shoppers to make informed choices when buying food and assist local producers. Mr Ashworth said there was a demand from both consumers and producers for more information on packaging. This means that the benefits would outweigh any limited extra costs that might be incurred.
Mr Ashworth said during the debate: “Consumers are giving a very clear message. They want to know where their food comes from and country of origin labelling doesn’t only benefit consumers, it can be an opportunity for food producers as well.”
“In the case of processed meat and dairy products, for example yoghurts and sausages, there already is a very high level of voluntary declaration and this is a cost that consumers are prepared to pay. So in the interest of fairness and consistency, I urge the Commission to bring forward proposals for mandatory country of origin labelling for all lightly processed products.”