French 'misled into buying UK lamb'

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The Independent Online
FRENCH SHOPPERS are paying a premium for lamb labelled 'French-Produced' which has spent all of its short life in Britain.

The RSPCA argued yesterday that the controversial export trade in live sheep to France for slaughter was underpinned by this case of mistaken, or falsified, identity.

The slaughtered British lambs are marked with a French abattoir meat inspection stamp - as opposed to the UK abattoir stamp on British carcass imports. This renders them 'French-Produced', and French consumers are willing to pay a large premium for the meat.

It is estimated that during 1993 live sheep exports from Britain will exceed 2 million after reaching 1.4 million last year. Of those, four out of five go to France. Organisations such as the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming argue that the long lorry journeys involved are cruel and unnecessary.

According to a report prepared by the Meat & Livestock Commission for the RSPCA, it costs four times as much to transport a live animal to France than a carcass. Yet the premium paid for the so-called French-produced meat makes it worthwhile.

The 12 European Union states are currently debating new rules for the transport of farm animals.