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Concern Meat Labelling Laws Will Cause Confusion

17 December 2013
National Farmers Union

UK - New European Commission rules on food labelling may lead to massive confusion for British shoppers keen to buy meat produced in the UK.

The National Farmers' Union and National Pig Association say that mandatory rules should have extended to born, reared and slaughtered – a decision which may increase consumer confidence at a time when the industry is still reeling following the horse meat scandal.

The European Commission voted to introduce mandatory reared and slaughtered labelling rules at the beginning of themonth.

The two organisations are concerned that labels could give the impression that a product is from the UK when it was in fact born in another country.

NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said: “We want to see the British Government, retailers and the food processing industry taking a clear position to safeguard the integrity of the UK brand because we are concerned about the potential to mislead consumers on the use of flags and other marketing claims on origins of meat.

“Since 2010, in the Country of Origin industry voluntary guidelines, retailers and processors have been following good practice of origin labelling and any deviation from this undermines consumer trust and the integrity of British farmers. We hope they will continue to support consumer transparency and uphold the integrity of the UK and British brands.

“The Food Information Regulations are meant to provide consumers with transparency about where their food has come from and frankly this flies in the face of exactly that.”

NPA acting general manager Lizzie Press said: “Considering Country of Origin Labelling was supposed to provide transparency and simplification in order to help consumers make an informed choice when shopping, the agreed proposal is now more confusing than ever and will require a great deal of explanation.

“There is the potential therefore, as an example, for the label to give the impression that a pig is wholly from the UK when it was born in another country and has spent only a proportion of its life, such as 10 weeks for a pig, in the country stated on the label.”

An NFU-commissioned survey by YouGov found that half of consumers feel that existing country of origin labels on meat products are generally unclear. It also reveals that 78% of consumers would feel misled if sold a meat product that carried a British Flag on the label but the animal was not born in the UK. Additionally, 79% say that meat products with a Union flag on the label should mean that the animal was born, reared and slaughtered in UK.

Notes to editors:
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,919 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken from November 25-26 2013. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

The Commission voted on the issue on December 5.

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Find out more about the NFU’s campaign Farming Delivers for Britain here

Contact: NFU, Agriculture House, Stoneleigh Park, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, CV8 2TZ. Media Adviser: Lee Perry
Telephone: 024 7685 8686 FAX: 024 7685 8651 ISDN: 02476 416289. Http://

The NFU is the voice of British farming and provides professional representation and services to its farmer and grower members.


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