Final ruling clears way for new French country of origin labeling laws

New French laws on country of origin labeling cleared the last hurdle this week and will come into force next year.

The French State Council, met this week and ruled on the draft decree passed by the Government and has gave a favorable opinion.

This paves the way for the establishment of the origin of compulsory labeling of meat in prepared meals and milk in dairy products from January 1, 2017.

Stéphane le Foll, the French Minister for Agriculture, welcomed the decision which he said will enable citizens to benefit from better information, on milk and meat producers to see the quality of their products fully recognized and for processors to enhance the composition of processed products.

As of this afternoon, at the initiative of Ministers, a consultation meeting was held with representatives of the sectors concerned and consumer groups to work on the precise terms of the application of the law and in particular the thresholds incorporation of meat and milk from which the labeling obligation will apply.

Criticism

The decision by the Commission to allow the trial has been met with criticism from those within the industry.

FoodDrinkEurope, the body representing Europe’s food and drink manufacturing industry, has said that it “deeply regrets” the Commission’s decision.

A statement from the body said that while the initiative is framed as a “test” and applies only to France, it is a mandatory measure which will have an immediate market impact, with considerable negative consequences for producers and for consumers, namely burdensome changes in the supply chain, difficulties in the labelling process and higher prices.

Moreover, of crucial importance in today’s context for Europe, this protectionist measure also sets an irreversible precedent for the fragmentation of the EU Single Market for foods and drinks, it said.

Mella Frewen, Director General of FoodDrinkEurope, said that by accepting the pilot proposed by France, the Commission implicitly accepts that there is a quality difference between French produce and, for example, Belgian, German, Italian, and Spanish produce, even if sourced only a few kilometres across the border.

This blatantly ignores the market reality that food supply chains do not stop at country borders but are for the greatest part European, so that a steady quality and availability can be guaranteed for the best possible price for over 500 million consumers every day.