COOL on minor meats would impose increase regulatory burdens

By Chloe Ryan

- Last updated on GMT

A significant amount of rabbit is imported to France from Belgium and the Netherlands
A significant amount of rabbit is imported to France from Belgium and the Netherlands

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A study into the implications of extending mandatory country of origin labelling (COOL) to include ‘minor meats’ such as horse, rabbit and game, has concluded it would "entail higher regulatory burden" on the industry.

The EC report, published earlier this week, says origin information voluntarily provided by food business operators (FBOs) could be "a suitable option without imposing additional burden on the industry and the authorities".

However, a final decision has not reached, and the EC is still to assess whether there are enough benefits of a mandatory scheme to warrant its extension to cover additional meats.

Currently all unprocessed meat from cattle, pigs, poultry, sheep and goats, must be labelled with its country of origin. The rule was introduced across Europe in April.

The study said COOL on minor meats would provide meaningful information to the consumer. However there were several complicating factors associated with the supply chains of horse and game.

"Horses are likely to have long lives and complex supply chains and origin information may not be readily available. Traceability systems may be inadequate and costly to set up,"​ the report stated.

There were some concerns among rabbit processors in France that due to high imports of rabbit from Belgium and the Netherlands, COOL may affect demand for the product. 

Most wild small game meat is consumed locally and origin labelling in these circumstances is of little relevance. Mandatory origin labelling would only affect the small proportion of small game meat that is sold pre-packaged through commercial retail outlets. Large game will be more affected as significant quantities are sold pre-packed through supermarkets.

The report also states that there is a ‘paradox’ in consumer attitudes because despite strong interest in the origin of food, this is not necessarily reflected in their willingness to pay any more.

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