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France Demands European Level Labelling of Ready Meal Meat

26 February 2013

FRANCE - Labelling requirements for meat in ready meals were escalated to a European priority by French president François Hollande over the weekend, writes Peter Crosskey.

French president François Hollande talks to French beef farmers at the opening of SIA.

Opening the Salon International de l'Agriculture in Paris, the head of state declared: "These last few days have seen a lot of questions asked and, not to put it more strongly, fraud, because there was no labelling.

"In the future, I want to see compulsory labelling on all meats that go into ready meals."

The announcement followed the initial reports from the Brigade Nationale d'Enquêtes Vétérinaires et Phytosanitaires (BNEVP) investigations team into the Spanghero sites.

While the firm's manufacturing site was cleared at the end of the week for ready meal and minced meat production, investigations remain in progress on coldstores.

One of these coldstores had been in operation since 2012 and had despatched just 500 tonnes of frozen meat during this time; there are some smaller volumes held in contracted-out storage.

The presidential imperative is to speed up the implementation of existing European legislation for meat, meat products and seafood and widen its application to ready meals with meat content.

Upcoming EU requirements will include a date on which the products concerned were frozen or defrosted, where applicable.

French consumers are avid label inspectors: nearly three quarters of the population like to check the provenance of their food, according to a recent survey by the CLCV association during the holiday season.

While there are ready-made quality marks that can be adapted for traceability purposes, it would rub some of the gilding off the schemes concerned, since they would struggle to retain their full value as a component in another product.

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