Origin Labelling of British Pork

UK - December 2014 is an important date for British pig producers. It is when origin labelling of pig meat is scheduled to become a legal requirement throughout the European Union.
calendar icon 27 August 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

For this to happen, the Commission must adopt, by December 2013, the necessary implementing acts for pork, lamb and poultry. Origin labelling of beef is already mandatory.

These will become part of a new European Union labelling regulation which comes into force on 13 December 2014.

Importantly the Commission is obliged by the new regulation to consider whether mandatory labelling of pork should provide more detail than just country of origin.

It must define and consider whether mandatory country of origin labelling will include one, some or all of the following:

  • Place of birth,
  • Place of rearing,
  • Place of slaughter.

The Commission is also obliged to consider the practicalities of applying mandatory country of origin labelling to processed foods, where pork makes up more than half of the ingredients.

The drive for improved origin labelling has come from the European Parliament which has had to fight against foot-dragging by European Commission officials and a number of member countries.

There are still some in Brussels, and in pigmeat exporting countries such as Denmark, who argue that "Product of the EU" is all that consumers need to know.

However, Horsegate has helped stiffen the resolve of MEPs, who are determined not to let the Commission and ministers fudge origin labelling with get-out-of-jail clauses.

Importantly, the European Union's new labelling regulation affirms that origin labelling is already mandatory where failure to give the country of origin "might mislead the consumer as to the true country of origin or place of provenance of food, in particular if the information accompanying the food or the label as a whole would otherwise imply that the food has a different country of origin or place of provenance".

(Think "York" ham, "Wiltshire-cure" bacon, and "Traditional recipe" sausages.)

Origin labelling is only a tiny part of Europe's new labelling regulation which is mostly concerned with consumer advice on ingredients and nutrition, and positioning, size and clarity of mandatory information.

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