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EU Politicians Call Again for Country of Origin Labels for Meat, Milk

23 March 2016

EU - Food safety MEPs reiterated their support for introducing mandatory country of origin labelling of meat and milk, in a non-binding resolution voted on Tuesday.

Mandatory labelling would help maintain consumer confidence in food products by making the food supply chain more transparent, they say.

The motion for a resolution restates Parliament's position in favour of mandatory labelling of the country of origin or place of provenance of meat in processed foods.

MEPs add that this labelling should also be made mandatory for meat than that of bovine, porcine, ovine and caprine species and poultry meat, for milk and milk used as an ingredient in dairy products, for unprocessed foods, single-ingredient products and for ingredients that make up more than 50 per cent of a food.

MEPs highlight that according to a 2013 Eurobarometer survey:

  • 84 per cent of EU citizens consider it necessary to indicate the origin of milk,
  • 88 per cent consider such labelling necessary for meat (other than beef, swine, sheep, goat and poultry meat, which are already covered), and
  • more than 90 per cent consider such labelling important for processed foods.

MEPs also point out that ”the mandatory indication of the origin of milk, sold as such or used as an ingredient in dairy products, is a useful measure to protect the quality of dairy products, combat food fraud and protect employment in a sector which is going through a severe crisis”.

MEPs have previously voted on several resolutions on country of origin labelling, including one in February last year, when they urged the EU's executive arm, the Commission, to come up with mandatory labelling legislative proposals.

However, the Parliament says the Commission has yet to make any such proposals, citing the costs of mandatory country of origin labelling to industry and predicting that consumers would not be willing to meet the additional costs.

They note that the Commission's report found that the operating costs of making country of origin labelling mandatory for the meats under its remit would be relatively minor.

They point out that voluntary labelling, as advocated by the European Commission, might lead to the introduction of a variety of different schemes, which could be confusing for consumers.

Next steps

The motion for a resolution, co-signed by MEPs Glenis Willmott (S&D, UK), Julie Girling (ECR, UK), Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE, FI), Lynn Boylan (GUE/NGL, IE), Michèle Rivasi (Greens/EFA, FR), Piernicola Pedicini (EFDD, IT) and Matteo Salvini (ENF, IT) was adopted with 44 votes to 18. It will be put to a vote by the full House during the April or May plenary sessions in Strasbourg.

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