New labelling rules to bring ‘massive confusion’, warn farmers

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food information regulation Consumer protection Food Food manufacture Uk

The FIR will make it more difficult for consumers to choose British meat, warn two farmers' organisations. To register for Food Manufacture's free, one-hour, FIR webinar, email
The FIR will make it more difficult for consumers to choose British meat, warn two farmers' organisations. To register for Food Manufacture's free, one-hour, FIR webinar, email
New food labelling rules will bring “massive confusion” for shoppers who want to buy British-produced meat, warn two leading farming organisations.

The new EU Food Information Regulation (FIR) – which will introduce mandatory labelling rules covering where stock is reared and slaughtered – will make it more difficult for shoppers to buy British produce, according to the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the National Pig Association (NPA). The implications of the FIR for food and drink manufacturers is the subject of Food Manufacture’s​ free, one-hour webinar​ on to be staged at 11am on Thursday February 20.

Both the NFU and NPA argue that the mandatory rules should have been extended to cover where stock is born, reared and slaughtered. That would increase consumer confidence in the provenance of meat at a time when the industry is still reeling following the horsemeat scandal, they claim.

The organisations worry that labels could give the impression that a product was produced in the UK when, in reality, the animal concerned was born in another country.

‘Mislead consumers’

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said: “We want to see the British government, retailers and the food processing industry taking a clear position to safeguard the integrity of the UK brand because we are concerned about the potential to mislead consumers on the use of flags and other marketing claims on origins of meat.

“Since 2010, in the country of origin industry voluntary guidelines, retailers and processors have been following good practice of origin labelling and any deviation from this undermines consumer trust and the integrity of British farmers. We hope they will continue to support consumer transparency and uphold the integrity of the UK and British brands.”

The Food Information Regulation is meant to provide consumers with transparency about where their food has come from but the current proposal “flies in the face of exactly that”,​ he added.

‘More confusing than ever’

NPA acting general manager Lizzie Press said: “Considering country of origin labelling was supposed to provide transparency and simplification in order to help consumers make an informed choice when shopping, the agreed proposal is now more confusing than ever and will require a great deal of explanation.

“There is the potential therefore, as an example, for the label to give the impression that a pig is wholly from the UK when it was born in another country and has spent only a proportion of its life, such as 10 weeks for a pig, in the country stated on the label.”

To uncover the full implications of the FIR, Food Manufacture​ is staging a free one-hour webinar​ at 11am on Thursday February 20, in association with law firm DWF.

Taking part will be Alasdair Tucker, head of regulatory affairs, at Premier Foods and Dominic Watkins, partner and head of the food group at DWF. To register for this online event email​.

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Can still use previous 'quality assurance labels'

Posted by Ian Piddock,

I don't believe the new legislation forces a manufacturer to remove these 'British' logos. These logos currently mean that the meat has been born, reared and slaughtered in Britain. If that is how the consumer currently perceives this 'logo' then nothing changes, they can still be used.

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Posted by Neves,

Let's be honest: they just want to play the "nationalist" card.

As for "protecting the consumer", they seem to forget a few individuals in Great Britain were arrested during the horsemeat scandal.

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