New rules on country of origin labelling come into effect from Wednesday (April 1) and will apply to sheepmeat, pigmeat and poultry.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney will sign into law new rules to provide for country of origin labelling on packaged meat products.

The regulation introduces requirements on food business operators including processors, retailers and butcher shops to ensure that country of origin labelling information is available to their customers who purchase packaged meat products.

The rules will cover poultry, pigmeat, sheepmeat and goatmeat and will add to the existing rules in place for beef.

The Minister said this regulation is yet another step in providing even clearer and more detailed information to consumers with regards to the food that they purchase.

“Origin labelling has been in place for beef for many years now and has benefited the consumer in being able to identify the origin of the products they purchase. This additional requirement to provide information on the origin of other meats to consumers is broadly consistent with the rules on beef and adds transparency for consumers.”

The EU Regulation underpinning these rules covers pre-packed non-processed meat but does not cover ‘loose’ product, or non pre-packaged meat.

However the EU Regulations provide that mandatory origin labelling may be extended to loose product by National rules, and the Minister indicated that is Department is working with the Department of Health to determine whether this can be done on the basis of existing primary legislation.

The Minister said his Department is working closely with the FSAI, the HSE, Local Authority Veterinary Services and other relevant state agencies to ensure that consumers here can have full confidence that these rules will be implemented to the highest standards.

“I would encourage members of the public to bring any queries that they may have on labelled products to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland who will follow up on the matter with the relevant businesses and state bodies.”

“Ireland has long been a supporter at EU level for practical information to be made available to the consumer when it comes to their choice of food purchases and the implementation of these rules is another positive step in that direction. “