Country of origin labelling on council agenda

The EU Council of Agriculture Ministers are set to discuss the laying down rules for the application of mandatory indication of the country of origin or place of provenance for fresh chilled and frozen meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry at nexts weeks Council meeting.

In the light of the fraudulent mislabelling of beef products in the EU revealed at the beginning of last year, the resolution considers that the implementing regulation should go further and include a mandatory labelling of the country of origin of all unprocessed meat in accordance with the existing beef labelling legislation.

In March this year, the Commission presented to the ministers a report on the feasibility of extending mandatory origin labelling for all meat used as an ingredient. One of the main findings in the report was 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 pointed out that the more precise the information, the higher the costs will be.

At the time of the debate, the Presidency noted that there were still diverging views among the member states as regards the scenarios assessed by the report. While many delegations were in favour of introducing mandatory labelling, a number of them would like the labelling to indicate the specific EU member state or the specific third country whereas some others would prefer it to indicate EU/non-EU origin. However, others argued for maintaining origin labelling on a voluntary basis (i.e. status quo).

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