EU clarifies stance on origin of ingredients

By Diana Yordanova, in Brussels

- Last updated on GMT

EU clarifies stance on origin of ingredients

Related tags European union Packaging equipment & materials

After initially confusing food businesses as to whether they must comply with upcoming draft European Union (EU) rules on country-of-origin labelling, the European Commission has told GlobalMeatNews that its planned new rules will be voluntary.

It has said that, under a draft Commission regulation (which will not need special authorisation from EU ministers and MEPs) from 1 April 2019, EU meat and meat product manufacturers will still be able to choose whether to label the origin of their food and ingredients.

However, if the Commission goes ahead with its plans, for manufacturers and brands wanting to use origin labelling “it will become mandatory to write/label/specify the origin of the primary/main ingredient in case it is different from the country of the food​” where a final product was manufactured, а Commission spokesman for health and food safety told GlobalMeatNews​.

The proposal has been welcomed by the EU meat sector as a way to end the growing number of national origin labelling measures, such as those introduced in France on 1 January (2018), which said labels must note the origin of meat constituting more than 8% by volume of ingredients in processed food.

We support the adoption of the new rules as soon as possible, in order to have a harmonised regulatory framework rather than different national rules applicable only for goods produced in those countries which adopted national decrees on origin labelling​,” said Paolo Patruno, deputy secretary general of the Liaison Centre for the Meat Processing Industry in the European Union (CLITRAVI).

In addition, European Livestock and Meat Trading Union (UECBV) secretary general Jean-Luc Mériaux said he expected manufacturers to prefer one EU rule to a range of national origin schemes for processed food. 

Regarding the anticipated costs of such origin labelling, Angelantonio D’Amario, UECBV expert in food policy and sustainability, told GlobalMeatNews ​that it would vary widely and depend on where labels were placed. 

Florence Ranson, communications director at food manufacturing association FoodDrinkEurope, however, had concerns about the proposal. “The transition period is too short, more legal clarity is needed and the presentation requirements are unnecessarily restrictive and overly prescriptive​,” she argued.

In an earlier consultation, staged in January (2018), FoodDrinkEurope commented that a two-year transition period would be needed, rather than the one year preferred by the Commission.

The reason given was that companies were already working on next year’s labelling concepts and “expect to incur additional disproportionate costs and burdens, including packaging waste​”, the association wrote.

The EU executive has said that only products placed on the market or physically labelled before April 2019 can still be sold without reference to the new rules, until stocks are exhausted.

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