Members of the Parliament's environment, public health and food safety committee opposed on Wednesday (22 January) a proposal from the Commission on food labelling for meat.
Citing the the recent food fraud scandals and consumers' concerns over the origin of meat, MEPs said the act would lay down rules that would mislead consumers.
The Commission wants the place of rearing and slaughtering to be labelled, including the rearing in a member state after spending just four months there for pork, and just one month for poultry.
However, the Commission has not proposed mandatory labelling of the place of birth, which was requested by Parliament.
“We want mandatory labelling of the place of birth, rearing and slaughter for all meat, just as we already do for beef," said British MEP Glenis Willmott of the Socialist and Democrats group (S&D) who drafted the resolution.
"This allows consumers to see how far the animal has travelled, and whether it has been in countries with good animal welfare standards, if that is their concern. The decision reached by the Commission and member states is not acceptable for us and, most importantly, it is not acceptable for consumers," the MEP added.
MEPs said that the origin of meat is a prime concern for consumers after recent food scandals, including the fraudulent substitution of beef with horsemeat, have shown that stricter rules for traceability and consumer information are both needed and wanted by consumers.
“Consumers wish to know exactly where the meat on their plate comes from. This is now being heard in the European Parliament. The 90% of consumers who want to know the origin of their meat are not interested in partial information, they want the full picture," said Monique Goyens, director general of the European Consumers' Organisation (BEUC).
“If we are to restore trust in the food sector, and more specifically in meat, there is no reason why consumers should only be given a partial idea of the origin of their meat. Beef prices did not climb after the labelling of the country of birth, rearing and slaughter became compulsory. So the Commission’s claim that prices will hike if the same model is applied to other types of meat rings a little hollow," Goyens added.
The members of the environment committee added that the Commission should withdraw the regulation and instead draw up a revised version to include a mandatory labelling requirement for the place of birth, as well as that of rearing and slaughter for those meats, in accordance with the existing beef origin labelling legislation.
The indication of origin has been mandatory for beef and beef products in the EU as a consequence of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis.
The rules for beef labelling in the EU have been in place since 1 January 2002, but since then the Parliament has repeatedly called for extending the regime to other types of meat.
- 3-6 Feb.: Resolution to be adopted during the plenary session in Strasbourg.
- Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety: Motion for resolution
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