The MEPs voted in favour of the move in a non-binding resolution yesterday (Thursday, May 12).
They voted by 422 votes to 159, with 68 abstentions to call for better information to be provided to EU consumers.
The vote followed several previous resolutions on COOL from MEPs. In its resolution of February 11, 2015, the European Parliament urged the European Commission (EC) to come up with legislative proposals to make labelling of the origin of meat in processed foods mandatory.
Mandatory for meat in processed foods
In this latest move MEPs focused on the improvement in transparency throughout the food chain in the wake of the horsemeat scandal of 2013 and other food fraud cases. It said that COOL should be made mandatory for meat in processed foods.
Mandatory labelling would help improve consumer confidence in food products by making the food supply chain more transparent, MEPs claimed.
Labels stating the country of origin or place of provenance should also be made mandatory for all kinds of drinking milk and dairy products.
MEPs have also urged the EC and Member States to consider extending it to other single-ingredient foods, or those with one main ingredient.
84% of EU citizens
MEPs pointed out that 84% of EU citizens considered it necessary to indicate the origin of milk, according to a 2013 Eurobarometer survey.
More than three quarters (88%)of consumers said they considered such labelling necessary for meat. That was in addition to beef, pigs, sheep, goat and poultry meat, which was already covered by earlier suggestions.
Over 90% considered such labelling important for processed foods, revealed the 2013 EC report.
The MEPs noted the EC’s report that found that the operating costs of making COOL mandatory for meat under its remit would be “relatively minor”.
Meanwhile, the National Farmers Union welcomed the MEPs’ recommendation as “a positive move for the dairy and livestock sectors”.
The non-binding resolution highlighted the success of voluntary labelling schemes but argued that legislation should be brought forward on labelling “as a priority”, said NFU deputy president Minette Batters. See further comments in the box below.
What the NFU says
“We know that UK shoppers want to know where the milk comes from in their dairy products, for example, but that’s not always possible with confusing labels. I very much hope to see the European Commission engage positively following this vote to help ensure that consumers are fully aware when British meat and dairy are used in manufactured products.”
- Minette Batters, NFU deputy president