February 21, 2007
Foreign meat sells as British meat due to labelling loophole
UK shoppers are buying a massive 1.6 million tonnes of foreign meat a year as imports soar to a new high, and it can be passed off as British.
The "Yorkshire Post" recently launched a campaign for clearer food labelling so that consumers know the food they are buying is truly British.
Foreign meat does not have to be produced to the same high standards that this country's farmers adhere to.
Yet a staggering 1.1 million tonnes of foreign pork, beef and lamb was imported to the UK in 2006, up from 675,000 tonnes in 1995. In addition, 560,000 tonnes of poultry was imported last year.
But as UK farmers struggle, a loophole in the law allows foreign meat to be branded British. Food can be labelled as produced in whichever country it was processed last. Processing can simply be smoking bacon or curing ham.
Confusing food labels mean shoppers who are keen to buy British produce are unwittingly buying foreign meat.
The revelation comes amid growing fears over food entering the country following recent news that bird flu discovered at the Bernard Matthews farm in Suffolk was probably brought to the country in a delivery of turkey meat from Hungary.
A spokesman for the British Poultry Council said there has been an upward trend over the last 10 or 15 years when it comes to importing meat.
The Yorkshire Post's Clearly British campaign also want better labelling on menus so diners know where the food is from.
They have been putting pressure on the UK government to convince the EU for such a necessity. The EU is currently reviewing its regulations.