What new labelling laws will mean for Irish sheep, pig and poultry producers

New EU food labelling rules have been extended to identify the EU Member State or third country of rearing and slaughter for unprocessed pre-packed pig, sheep and poultry meat.

Declan Fennell of the Bord Bia’s Meat Department says that mandatory country of origin labelling for beef has been a requirement of EU law since the BSE crisis.

The new laws mean the rearing periods which qualify for country of origin status differ by species.

  • Sheep and goats: The last rearing period of at least six months or the whole rearing period in the case the animal is slaughtered younger than six months.
  • Poultry: The last rearing period of at least one month or the whole rearing period after being placed for fattening in case the animal is slaughtered younger than one month.
  • Pig: In the case where the animal is slaughtered is older than six months, the last rearing period of at least four months.
  • If the animal is slaughtered younger than six months with a live weight of at least 80kg, the rearing period  after the animal has reached a live weight of 30 kilograms.
  • Also, if the animal slaughtered is under six months, the whole rearing period is if the animal is slaughtered with a live weight of less than 80 kilograms.

Fennell says that the term ‘origin’ can also be used where the Member State or country of birth is the same as the country of rearing and slaughter.

“The European Commission must now also report within two years on extending mandatory country of origin labelling to meat used as an ingredient in processed food,” Fennell said.

He also said that the European Commission will also have to report within three years on extending mandatory country of origin labelling on milk, milk used as an ingredient, other unprocessed foods, single-ingredient products and ingredients that represent more than 50% of a food.

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