During the last meeting of the European Council of Ministers of Agriculture, the Commission presented to the ministers a report on the possibility to extend mandatory origin labelling for all meat used as an ingredient. The report was published in December last year (18148/13).
There are still diverging views among the Member States as regards the scenarios assessed by the report. While many delegations were in favour of introducing a mandatory labelling, a number of those would like an indication of the specific EU Member State or the specific third country whereas some others would prefer an indication of EU/ non-EU origin. However some others took position for maintaining an origin labelling on a voluntary basis (i.e. status quo).
The report weighs up the need for the consumer to be informed and the feasibility of introducing mandatory origin labelling, and provides a cost-benefit analysis including the impact on the single market and on international trade. This report is of particular importance in the light of the fraudulent mislabelling of beef products in the EU revealed at the beginning of last year.
The main findings in the report reveal that:
- Consumers are interested in the indication of the origin of meat, but are not prepared to pay the price such labelling involves. The report points out that the more precise the information, the higher the costs will be.
- If obliged to indicate the origin of meat, food business operators may become more selective concerning their suppliers, reduce the number of intermediaries and avoid the use of trimmings and fat. However, the credibility of the system would require increased monitoring by the public authorities to prevent fraud.
On the basis of the discussion in the Council and the European Parliament the Commission will consider what, if any, next step is appropriate. This may include tabling a legislative proposal to regulate the origin of meat used as an ingredient in foods.
Tuesday March 25, 2014/ Consilium/ European Union.