Press Release
5 July 2011

Shoppers are set to win a new right to know where their meat has come from, under plans to be agreed by Euro-MPs tomorrow (Wednesday 6 July).

This week's Strasbourg vote will introduce a requirement for almost all pre-packed meat sold in British shops to carry information about where the animal came from.

Currently only beef and fish are required to include country of origin labelling. Labour MEPs have been leading the fight to introduce the new rules and have vowed to keep up the pressure for them to be extended to cover processed foods.

Labour's Stephen Hughes MEP has been campaigning for tough new rules to stop consumers from being misled by confusing or unclear labelling. Speaking about the vote, which is expected to receive the overwhelming support of MEPs, he said: "This is a positive step forward in our campaign for shoppers to have upfront and honest information about the food they buy.

"People want to know where their meat comes from and these new rules are great news for anyone who cares about the story behind their Sunday roast.

"Shoppers already have the right to know about the origins of their beef, fish, and fruit and veg. Now the vast majority of meat we buy will be covered too.

"Finally consumers will be able to see exactly where their meat began its journey to their fork."

The proposals are backed by the NFU and consumer organisations. They will apply to cuts of meat from pigs, poultry, sheep and goats. The changes mean that almost all meat sold in British supermarkets will need to include country of origin information.

Stephen Hughes has vowed to continue his campaign to extend the rules further to cover meat in processed foods, such as sausages and ready meals.

After pressure from MEPs, the European Commission has agreed to undertake impact assessments with the possibility of introducing additional proposals to cover these products in two years time.

Stephen Hughes added: "Most people would agree that just because a sausage is minced in Britain doesn't make it a British sausage. Yet that's exactly what manufacturers can currently claim.

"I will continue to keep up the pressure for action to be taken to give consumers access to honest information about the food they buy."