Do you buy British meat? New EU laws mean that companies will have to be honest about where your chops come from. But is it enough? We think there needs to be better nutritional information on food as well.
With an overwhelming number of products on supermarket shelves, it can be genuinely difficult to make an informed choice about your food.
Thankfully, new European laws have just made food choices that bit easier – all companies will now have to tell you where your meat came from.
Old food rules left a bitter taste
Under the old laws, a food’s ‘origin’ was the place where it last underwent a ‘substantial change’. That meant I could sell you some ‘British lamb’ that was actually born and raised in New Zealand – as long as I cut it into chops in my abattoir just outside Slough.
Shoppers were understandably frustrated by this. Eight out of 10 people we surveyed said they thought it was important to have accurate country of origin labelling on food packaging. And the last time we discussed this on Which? Conversation, commenter Frugal Ways said:
‘It astounds me that supermarkets are allowed to grow, produce and rear food outside of the UK then import and package it with British labelling, especially when the food comes from countries that have little or no comparison in food legislation to the UK.’
At the moment, these new origin labelling rules only apply to meat – would you like to see the same rules for other foods, like dairy?
Step up to the plate
Alongside the changes to origin food labelling, improvements have also been made to the rules on nutrition information. It’s now compulsory for all food manufacturers to put key information like calorie, salt and fat content, on their packaging.
That’s great, but not quite great enough – we need this labelling to be universal. If I’m in Tesco trying to choose between two different pizzas, I want to know straight away how they measure up. If one tells me its salt content ‘per 100g’ and the other tells me ‘per slice’, it’s not going to be easy for me to compare them.
Sure, it’s not impossible for us to work out this information with a decent head for mental maths and a little bit of time. But our research has shown that by far the best thing for consumers is clear, front of pack labelling. This includes a traffic light colour coding system which shows whether fat, salt and sugar content is ‘good’ ‘bad’ or ‘ok’.
What do you think about the new rules around origin labelling on meat? And do you think universal nutritional labels would help you make better food choices?