Country of origin labelling at sticking point

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Meat products, Milk, Jim paice

Labelling enables informed choices
Labelling enables informed choices
Country of origin labelling (COOL) of processed meat products and cheese has shown no significant improvement over the past year, according to the findings of a new survey of products bought from the major multiples and independent shops.

The 2012 survey of over 500 meat and dairy products, carried out by Campden Technology on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), showed that COOL on cheese had fallen from 77% to 76%, while for meat products such as bacon, ham, sausages and burgers, it fell from 73% to 72%.

However, on meat products such as pies and ready meals, it rose from 73% to 77%. The results for milk and butter remained the same at 54% and 100% respectively.

Increasing use on meat

Overall, there is some evidence of the increasing use of origin statements on meat products, driven by the own-label sector.

Information on the origin of a food product is compulsory by law for certain foods. Additional information on the origin of individual ingredients may be provided voluntarily on foods. Under current labelling rules the place of origin is considered to be the place of last substantial change.

In November 2010, new guiding voluntary principles on COOL formalised measures that provide consumers with clear, accurate information on the origin of their food. The principles apply to meat, processed meat products and milk, fresh cream, cheese and butter. They ensure that the term 'British' can only be used for meat from animals born and reared in the UK, and that liquid milk and fresh cream are labelled with the country of origin of the milk.

Paice: 'disappointed'

"It's disappointing to see little improvement in the number of products showing this information,"​ said food and farming minister, Jim Paice. "Origin labelling helps people make informed choices. Whether it's on a label, menu, or given verbally, I want to see all of industry making every effort to provide this information that consumers have made it clear they want."

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