Defra considering labelling British food to pinpoint its source

For purchased meat, we could see 'Born, Raised and Slaughtered in Wales' – or Scotland, England or Northern Ireland – on packaging

Karen Attwood
Sunday 10 May 2015 12:31
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A butcher holds meat to sell during the annual Christmas Eve auction at Smithfield Market in central London
A butcher holds meat to sell during the annual Christmas Eve auction at Smithfield Market in central London

British meat would show more detailed labelling under proposals being discussed by the Government.

At the moment, all UK-produced meat is labelled “Born, Raised and Slaughtered in Britain”, but government officials have been in discussions with the food industry over whether to state which part of the UK the meat was produced.

This means we could see “Born, Raised and Slaughtered in Wales” – or Scotland, England or Northern Ireland – on packaging. Labelling of dairy products, such as cheese and butter, with the information "Made from British milk" is also under consideration.

Speaking to the Independent on Sunday at a European Commission (EC) conference, held in the opening week of Expo Milan, Stephen Pugh, head of food labelling at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, said: “We want to see voluntary labelling of dairy products.”

Alcoholic drinks should have similar nutritional information as non-alcoholic drinks, he said: “It’s a public health issue. People are not aware of the number of calories they intake when they drink alcohol.”

Eric Marin, deputy head of the EC’s food fraud unit, said that the framework to tackle fraud put in place in Europe following the horsemeat scandal “has to be delivered at the international level” if we are to limit incidents, such as the recent contamination of spices with nuts that led to the recall of ground cumin in the UK and Canada.

“We live in a globalised world,” he said. “This is the internationalisation of food. More and more we will have this widescale fraud over the world. We have to be vigilant and exchange information.”

Spices were a “high-risk sector” because they are expensive and very easy to contaminate, he said.

Ladislav Miko, acting director general for the EC’s health and consumer unit, opened the conference with the warning that “one of the biggest threats in the world today” is resistance to antibiotics due to overuse. About 25,000 people are estimated to die every year due to resistance to antibiotics.

Earlier, the conference hosted a debate about the controversial use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Europe. While only one GM crop is cultivated in Europe their use in animal feed is widespread. In 2013, the EU imported 32m tons of soybean to feed livestock, 90 per cent of which was GM protein.

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