The report, which is still to be finalised, is expected to recommend that such labelling would only mention the country where a source animal was finished and slaughtered. While confirming that this suggestion was in current drafts, diplomatic sources in Brussels stressed that this formula could still change before the report is released.
The Commission has to make a recommendation on the subject by 13 December under the terms of a European Union (EU) regulation on the provision of food information to consumers (EC 1169/2011).
But EU governments have asked Brussels to speed up the release of the report following this year’s horsemeat labelling scandal. Research for this study had already been completed by July 2013, according to an EU official.
Brussels meat industry sources said the report might take the form of an impact assessment, which considers different scenarios for new legislation and picks the one that is the most cost-effective, while still delivering the transparency objectives of the regulation.
This is why the European Commission may have decided to request mandatory labelling only for the last part of an animal’s life, given that providing information on the label of the product containing meat on all rearing stages could be cumbersome and costly.
The EU’s Health Commissioner Tonio Borg has repeatedly said during meetings with the European Parliament and national health ministers that mandatory information on meat country of origin will not solve all potential meat supply chain problems.
He has also underlined that even if stricter country-of-origin rules had been in place earlier this year, the horsemeat scandal would have not been prevented, as this was caused by intentional mislabelling.