UK introduces voluntary COOL code for pork

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Origin labelling Pork Uk

A new country of origin labelling (COOL) code of practice for pork introduced in the UK yesterday will benefit meat processors, producers and consumers, said one industry body.

The voluntary code aims to give clear information about country of origin on packs of pork, bacon and ham. It was drawn up by the Pig Meat Supply Chain Task Force - a group representing processors, pig producers, retailers and the food service sector.

The code will be used to guarantee that the country of origin of the pork used in processed products will be clearly displayed on the pack. Under the guidelines, terms such as ‘Produced in the UK​will be viewed as ambiguous if the meat’s origin is not clearly explained. Companies adhering to the new code have committed to providing clear information such as ‘Produced in the UK using pork from country X,’ ​said the UK Government.

“End the nonsense”

Stewart Houston, chairman of pork body BPEX, said: "Clear labelling is great news for everyone in the supply chain, easier choice for consumers, more sales of British pork products for the retailer, benefiting both the producer and the processor."

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) also welcomed the initiative.

“We support the aim of the guidance in providing clear and consistent labelling for the consumer and welcome an outcome which does not restrict trade or the ability for manufacturers to flexibly source ingredients,"​ BMPA legislation and technical manager Elizabeth Andoh-Kesson told

Production definitions, such as 'outdoor bred'​ and 'outdoor reared'​ are still being finalised and an announcement on how these could be incorporated into labelling is expected in the near future.

Government Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said the new code would “end the nonsense of unclear country of origin labelling on pig meat products”.

“I expect all major retailers to sign up and join those who have already decided to end the confusion for shoppers,”​ he added. “If they don’t, their customers should ask them why they’re not in favour of clear, honest labelling.”

A string of major retailers including supermarket giants Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, The Co-operative and Waitrose have all signed up to the initiative. The Task Force will now bid to encourage more retailers to join them before the code goes live in April.

Code summary

The key elements of the country of origin code include:

  • A commitment to clearly display the country of origin on retail packs;
  • Where single country of origin is displayed it means that the pig was born, reared and slaughtered in that country;
  • The term “produced in the UK” will not be used without qualification of the origin of the pork;
  • The use of national terms and symbols (such as flags) will mean that the pork comes from that country;
  • Product specific terms such as Wiltshire Cure will mean that the pork used to make the product comes from within the UK. If not the origin will be clearly stated;
  • Imagery that could imply UK origin will only be used on UK origin product, otherwise there will be a statement of origin on the pack;
  • Food service outlets will make origin information readily available to customers such as on the menu, in literature or on company websites; and
  • Where the term “local” is used it will be clearly defined.

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