EU meat origin labeling rules need beefing up

EU meat origin labeling rules need beefing up

A EUROPEAN Commission proposal that would allow pork to be labeled as "reared" in a European Union country even if the pig spent only four months there was rejected by European lawmakers on Feb. 6.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) argued that origin labeling rules for fresh, chilled and frozen meat of swine, sheep, goats and poultry should be modeled on the stricter ones already in place for beef so as not to mislead consumers.

Under the proposed scheme, labels would state only the countries of rearing and slaughter. Pork could be labeled as "reared" in a member state if the pig had lived there for just four months, or for just one month in the case of poultry. The European Commission did not propose mandatory labeling of the place of birth, even though Parliament has repeatedly requested it.

"Consumers want the full picture of the meat supply chain, which is why I am calling for the place of birth, rearing and slaughter to be labeled. Many people want to know whether animals have come from places with good welfare standards and how far they have been transported, for ethical and environmental reasons," said U.K. MEP Glenis Willmott, who drafted the resolution, which was adopted on a 368-207 vote with 20 abstentions.

"We already have these rules in place for beef, and I don't see why we shouldn't have the same for pigs, chickens, sheep and other meat animals," she added.

The MEPs pointed out that the origin of meat is of prime concern to consumers. Recent food scandals, including the fraudulent substitution of horse meat for beef, have shown that consumers both want and need stricter rules for traceability and consumer information, they said.

The MEPs, therefore, called on the European Commission to withdraw the regulation and to draw up a revised version that includes mandatory labeling for the place of birth, rearing and slaughter for those meats, in line with the existing beef origin labeling legislation.

The lawmakers also called on the commission to delete any exceptions from the implementing rules for minced meat and trimmings.

Volume:86 Issue:08

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