October 16, 2013


EU rejects full country-of-origin meat labelling plans
The European Commission (EC) has dropped the proposal for full country-of-origin labelling (COOL) from birth on all EU meat products.
Instead, labelling would be only required for the last period of rearing and the country of slaughter.


Currently, such labelling is required solely for beef.  

Meat producers had complained that full labelling from birth would be too expensive and complicated. The Commission's viewpoint on the issue is set to be presented to a meeting of member states and industry representatives next week.  


Consumer groups have been calling for full country-of-origin labelling (COOL) for all meat products since horsemeat was discovered in meat products labelled as beef across the EU earlier this year. Subsequent tests conducted by the EU found that horsemeat is present in 5% of beef products tested across the EU.  


The EC is preparing a review of EU food chain legislation, to strengthen controls and give the Commission the ability to impose sanctions. Tonio Borg, European commissioner for health, has said that he is sceptical of the utility of full COOL as it would not have prevented the horsemeat crisis, which involved mislabelling of species rather than country-of-origin.  


However, member states indicated that they wanted the EU to introduce the labelling. European consumers organisation, BEUC, said it is disappointed with the draft. "By giving up plans to label the origin of meat in sausages, lasagna and other meat-based processed foods, the EC has turned a blind eye to consumer's interests," said Monique Goyens, BEUC director-general. "Our report, published just before the horsemeat scandal broke, clearly found that 70% of EU consumers want to know where their food comes from."  


"The EC argues that labelling the origin of processed meat would incur extra costs for which consumers are not willing to pay," she added. "However, these estimates are disputable on many grounds."

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