“The biggest issue we face is that now the European Parliament has more involvement in framing legislation in Europe, there are a lot more uneducated proposals going forward,” claimed Stuart, commercial manager at United Biscuits, at the BCCC group annual conference held earlier this month. “A lot of MEPs have no idea how food is made in Europe or the supply chain.”
Stuart used the example of cheese powder, which was an ingredient in many of the BCCC group members' products and was supplied by a lot of different countries. “How do you tell where that’s from? Some even want to label the cheeses the powder comes from.”
Another MEP wanted packaging to list the name of the farmer from whom potatoes used in a product came from, despite the fact that processors sourced the same potato varieties from many different countries. “So part of our lobbying is about injecting some pragmatism into things,” said Stuart.
The EU Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee voted through amendments to the draft Food Information Regulation (FIR) concerning COOL at its second reading on April 19. They would require COOL for all meat, poultry, milk and dairy products and for meat, poultry and fish when used as an ingredient in processed food.
This follows proposals for compulsory COOL for all fresh meat in February.
The origin of foods such as beef, honey, olive oil and fresh produce must already be stated on the label.
The latest amendments are at odds with the European Council, which had argued for moderate COOL proposals, having been presented with data showing widespread changes would be expensive for the food industry.
A series of ‘trialogues’ will now be held between the European Parliament, Council and Commission to try to resolve differences, the first of which will take place on May 10.