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Public demand better food labelling – NFU

[Tuesday 24 November 2009]

Farmers are calling on the European Parliament to give UK consumers want they want - clear country of origin food labelling so they can be sure where in the world their food comes from.

As the European Parliament prepares to legislate on food labelling, NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said: "Labelling needs to provide accurate, clear and relevant information so consumers can make an informed choice. People who want to buy great British food want to be certain that is exactly what they are getting.

"We already have country of origin on many foods such as beef, eggs, fruit and vegetables, wine, honey, olive oil and, from next year, EU organic products. Consumers want consistency in labelling across all sectors and we believe there is no reason why mandatory country of origin labelling should not be extended to the remaining sectors as well as to the main ingredients of semi-processed foods.

"The current guidelines are clearly not working. There are loopholes in the current legislation leading to clear cases of misleading labelling - such as giving the last place of processing (e.g., ham) and the place a product was packed in (e.g., cheese) - that finally need to be tightened up."

Mr Raymond said a recent Which? Survey had shown 80 per cent of people thought country of origin labelling was important for meat and poultry and 76 per cent for dairy. The survey also showed that consumers believed it was important for product labels to show where meat was bred and reared (74 per cent) as well as where it was produced and processed (77 per cent).

It has long been a bone of contention with British framers that meat and other products imported from aboard – often from countries with much lower hygiene and animal welfare practices, and therefore cheaper to produce – can be labelled as British when processed here into foods like sausages and pies .

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