MEPs vote in favour of origin labelling for meat in processed foods

By Georgi Gyton

- Last updated on GMT

The resolution was passed by 460 votes to 204
The resolution was passed by 460 votes to 204

Related tags European union European parliament European commission Beef Lamb Pork Poultry

Country-of-origin labelling (COOL) for meat used as an ingredient in processed foods is one step closer to becoming a reality following a vote in European Parliament yesterday (12 February).

MEPs have been calling on the European Commission to draft legislative proposals on COOL for meat used in processed foods, as is already the case with fresh beef.

The resolution was passed by 460 votes to 204, with 33 abstentions.

An earlier vote in January was passed by 48 votes to 15, with four abstentions, resulting in the issue being discussed, along with an oral question to the Commission, and put to a plenary session yesterday.

The drive behind the proposals for COOL is a desire to rebuild consumer confidence following recent food fraud cases, including the horsemeat scandal, and to improve transparency throughout the supply chain.

Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT), environment committee chair, said that following the horsemeat scandal, "it is now up to us to regain consumers’ trust".

"Nonetheless, we must ensure that this does not lead to additional burdens on small and medium-sized enterprises, of which there are many in this sector,"​ he added.

EuroCommerce, which represents the retail, wholesale and international trade sectors in Europe, said it was disappointed at the outcome of the vote,

Christian Verschueren, director-general of EuroCommerce, said: "Mandatory origin labelling of meat used in such products will do little for consumers, who have signalled that they do not see this as a priority, and it will not help to promote food safety. It will simply burden business with additional costs, which, as the Commission has clearly said, the consumer will end up paying for."

However, other EU organisation embraced the decision by MEPs.

Monique Goyens, director general of The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), said: "We are delighted that the European Parliament seized a golden opportunity to support what 90% of EU consumers have been calling for – a more transparent meat supply chain. Their right to know where the meat in their burgers and sausages comes from has finally been acknowledged.

"We’ve been campaigning on this for years and, in the wake of the infamous horsemeat scandal, we asked specifically for clearer information."

According to the EuroCommerce, a 2013 report by the European Commission on the feasibility and impact of mandatory origin labelling for meat used as an ingredients suggested it would lead to a significant increased in costs for companies and public authorities, resulting in higher prices for consumers.

It also concluded that while consumers would be interested in receiving detailed information on the origin of the ingredients in processed foods, they would not be willing to pay extra for it.

MEPs have also noted that more research needs to done into the impact on prices, as those suggested by French consumer organisation Que Choisir vary widely from those in the Commission’s report.

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