/ Food & Drink, Shopping

Know where your meat is born, reared and slaughtered

Sandwiches with country's flags

Our research has shown that the majority of people are interested in knowing where their food comes from, particularly when it comes to meat products.

As many of our regulars will know, our lobbying can often have a European focus – particularly when decisions made in Europe have a big impact on consumers purchasing decisions in the UK. We’ve been calling on the UK Members of European Parliament to protect your right to food origin labelling, along with other consumer groups across the European Union.

Origin labelling on meat

The European Commission has been debating how far origin labelling for meat and meat products should go. When we buy beef we can see where the animal was born, reared and slaughtered because that’s what’s legally required.

But under new rules, recently agreed by EU Member States, the legal minimum for other types of meat could be just to show the country of rearing and slaughter. The place of birth is therefore excluded under the new rules. The place of rearing in the case of pigs, for example, only needs to cover the last four months where it spent its life. We think this could be confusing as a product could say ‘reared in UK; slaughtered in UK’, but have been born and spent the first part of its life somewhere else.

Thanks to a vote in the European Parliament, your right to access more straightforward information could be protected. The European Parliament has taken a different view – and rejected the new rules, calling for a new proposal.

We’re calling on the European Commission to act and improve the information available on the birth, rearing and slaughter of animals. And in the shorter-term, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs needs to reach an agreement across the industry so that industry provides fuller information and people are not misled.

Do you buy your food products based on their country of origin? How much would you like to know about your food item’s supply chain to allow you to make an informed choice?

Comments
Guest
Christina Varnham says:
9 February 2014

I believe it is imperative we are told the exact origin and lifetime of our meat. Heaven forbid there would be another epidemic i.e. mad cow disease, we should be able to identify the origin and journey of the meat, for the good of the consumer and the economy of our country and others, to quickly isolate the problem.

Profile photo of John Ward
Guest

I also think we should be concerned over the welfare of the animals. If they’re being carted across Europe to enable them to be slaughtered and processed in a more appealing domain we need to know that this is being done humanely and safely. As Europe grows ever wider the risks increase dramatically.

The only reason for importing meat and livestock nowadays is to get it cheaper. I believe the UK could produce all the beef, pork and lamb required for its own consumption, and veal too if demand for it rose.

Profile photo of william
Guest

I think last years horse meat scandal, for which I’ve still not heard anyone being prosecuted, has shown that it’s currently to easy to pass off one meat for another.

Under current legislation I have no faith in where the meat comes from, as it depends how you say the word British on the packaging to mean from here, or assembled here.

Its about time British meant here, they can use EU or something else for assembled here.

Profile photo of wavechange
Guest

I believe that there is a good case for the UK to move towards being self-sufficient in meat production. This does not guarantee good animal husbandry or meat that is safe to eat, but the risks are decreased. Meat production is something that our small country is still good at.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Guest

It will always be the case that some supermarkets will buy on price, as they have done with milk, eggs, fruit, vegetables and so on. So unless the UK can match imported prices then we can never benefit completely from being self sufficient. We would buy British, where I know it is totally UK produced, where we can (except possibly NZ lamb where British seems so expensive). The more who do that the more we can expand British meat production – as long as the EU don’t interfere..

Profile photo of wavechange
Guest

I agree Malcolm. Price will always be an issue and we certainly cannot try and interfere with trade within the EU. The fact remains that there are so issues associated with meat production that there is more risk than with other foods. The BSE and horse meat episodes both showed that there is public concern, albeit fuelled by sensationalist reporting. Part of the problem is the constant demand for cheap meat, encouraging irresponsibility at some point along the supply chain. There were some examples of this in West Yorkshire recently.

Nutritionally, we do not need to eat much meat and some live healthy lives without it. Many consumers could save a lot by eating less meat, but it is often seen as something we need to eat every day.

Whether it is cheap meat or cheap counterfeit electrical products, I think we have to learn to live without them.

Profile photo of knackered old sod
Guest

I consider total traceability of all food products to be essential.
Precise details regarding the use of all medication, growth promoters and additives needs to be publicised.

I suspect that there may be a link between an obese population and manipulation of food stuffs.

Meat products traceability should also indicate the method of slaughter – humane or ritual for all to be able to follow their conscience/beliefs.

Profile photo of LarrySeabrook
Guest

Programme on BBC this afternoon about the Muslim Pound I thought this may be interesting to get more information on how Islamic Banks work! But no this was all about the Muslim buying power and their access to more traditional Islamic dress. But more worrying was the subject of Halal meat and the report of a Muslim business lady selling guaranteed Halal. And additionally stated all her products were unstunned Halal meat. Fantastic our family have been trying to avoid Halal slaughtered meat and this is quite difficult as supermarkets are reluctant to make any effort to make the statement Halal or not. I do not want to buy or eat meat subjected to Halal slaughter, where these animals die chocking on their own blood. Surely it is time this country stopped this awful practice.