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EU Politicians Vote to Support Origin Labels on Meat, Dairy

16 May 2016, at 12:00am

EU - Country of origin labelling should be made mandatory for meat and milk, MEPs reiterated once again in a non-binding resolution voted on Thursday.

Mandatory labelling would help improve consumer confidence in food products by making the food supply chain more transparent, they say.

Labels stating the country of origin or place of provenance should be made mandatory for all kinds of drinking milk, dairy products and meat products, say MEPs, adding that the EU Commission and member states should also consider extending it to other single-ingredient foods, or those with one main ingredient.

To better inform EU consumers, in the wake of the horse meat scandal and other food fraud cases, and improve transparency throughout the food chain, country of origin labelling should also be made mandatory for meat in processed foods, says the text, approved by 422 votes to 159, with 68 abstentions.

The EU Parliament has already voted to support country of origin labelling several times, but the EU's executive body the Commission has yet to make any proposals on the subject, citing high costs that consumers may not be willing to contribute to.

MEPs point out that:

  • 84 per cent of EU citizens consider it necessary to indicate the origin of milk (2013 Eurobarometer survey),
  • 88 per cent consider such labelling necessary for meat (other than beef, swine, sheep, goat and poultry meat, which are already covered), and
  • more than 90 per cent consider such labelling important for processed foods (2013 European Commission report).

They also note that the Commission's report found that the operating costs of making country of origin labelling mandatory for the meats under its remit would be “relatively minor”.

The UK's National Farmers' Union (NFU) Deputy President, Minette Batters, said: “I am very pleased that Members of the European Parliament have supported the NFU on clear dairy and meat labelling.

“We know that UK shoppers want to know where the milk comes from in their dairy products, for example, but that’s not always possible with confusing labels. I very much hope to see the European Commission engage positively following this vote to help ensure that consumers are fully aware when British meat and dairy are used in manufactured products.”

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