November 26, 2010


UK to introduce clearer labelling for dairy and meat



UK retailers have agreed to voluntarily ensure accurate country of origin labelling of UK meat and dairy products.


The new guiding principles announced formalised measures that Britain's grocers had agreed on.


Following years of intense lobbying by politicians and farming leaders, the guidance has been developed by the British Retail Consortium in association with representatives of food manufacturers, commercial caterers and the hospitality trade. Based on the labelling practices of the best performers in the food chain, it aims to bring others into line.


The move comes in advance of further statutory requirements on the issue currently being considered by the European parliament.


The principles apply to meat, processed meat products and milk, fresh cream, cheeses, and butter. They ensure that the term "British" can only be used for meat from animals born and reared in the UK, and dairy products made from milk produced here.


Some UK grocers already use this approach for origin labelling, with the overwhelming majority now committed to going one step further and providing country of origin information on the meat in all composite products such as soups and ready meals.


Reacting to the announcement, NFU Scotland's food policy officer, Wendy Fleming, said, "inaccurate and inconsistent labelling of products on supermarket shelves is a regular source of frustration to Scotland's farmers and we have been calling for improvements for some time. This retailer commitment should mean that if it says British on the label then it's British in the packet and that is a step in the right direction."

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