Meat used as an ingredient in manufactured dishes such as lasagne should be labelled by country of origin as is already the case with fresh beef, said Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). They voted in favour of drafting regulation to that effect by 460 votes to 204 with 33 abstentions.
They called on the Commission, which published a report on the issue in December 2013, to table the legislative proposals to rebuild consumer confidence following the horsemeat scandal and other food fraud cases.
‘Regain consumers’ trust’
“After the horsemeat scandal, it is now up to us to regain consumers’ trust,” said EU Environment Committee chairman Giovanni La Via.
“We are asking the Commission to come up with a legislative proposal with a mandatory country of origin labelling, because this will help to enhance transparency and to provide clear and complete information to the consumers.
“We must nonetheless ensure that this does not lead to additional burdens on small and medium-sized enterprises, of which there are many in this sector.”
MEPs repeated concerns over the potential impact of food fraud on food safety, consumer confidence and health, the functioning of the food chain and farm products prices.
They highlighted that the Commission’s 2013 report acknowledged that more than 90% of consumer respondents believed it was important to label meat origin on processed food products. It was a prime factor influencing consumer behaviour, they claimed.
MEPs asked for a clearer picture of the impact of COOL on product prices, as estimates in the Commission’s report differed widely from French consumer research, they said. The evaluation should be carried out in conjunction with consumer organisations and would not delay legislative proposals, they added.
Depending on the EU Member State concerned, 30% to half of all slaughtered meat is processed into meat ingredients for foodstuffs, mostly minced meat, meat preparations and meat products.