/ Food & Drink

Where’s your meat from?

Lots of raw, red meat

Most of us are interested in knowing where our meat comes from. That’s why we’re working with other European consumer orgs to ensure you know the full journey of your meat, not just a slice of it.

As our chief policy adviser, Sue Davies, noted back in February, the majority of people (90%) want to know where their meat comes from. Christina told us ‘I believe it is imperative we are told the exact origin and lifetime of our meat’.

We saw trust in meat drop after the horsemeat scandal. We believe making the meat supply chain more transparent is crucial to restoring consumers’ lost confidence in meat. William put it well in a comment on Sue’s Convo:

‘I think last year’s horse meat scandal, for which I’ve still not heard anyone being prosecuted, has shown that it’s currently too 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.’

Can we trust our meat?

Following the publication of the Elliott Report into the horsemeat scandal, we’ll see many changes introduced to help tackle food fraud. But there’s still a gap – origin labelling on meat products.

Only a handful of manufacturers voluntarily display information on the origin of the meat in their products. Manufacturers would also have to keep a much tighter grip on their supply chain if they had to indicate the origin of meat in their products.

New EU labelling rules, which will come into effect from April 2015, will add country of origin labels to fresh pig, poultry, sheep and goat meat. However, this will not include the birth place of these meats, just where it was reared and slaughtered. Moreover, there are no plans to make origin labelling compulsory for meat in processed in foods.

Origin labelling on processed meat

We don’t think it should be difficult to find out if your burger is British, or whether your lasagne was lovingly prepared in a factory with beef from Poland. And we’re not the only ones. We’ve come together with our colleagues in consumer organisations across Europe to jointly campaign for mandatory country of origin labelling on processed meat products such as sausages, ham and lasagne.

It’s now time for your voice to be heard, so we’re working with our friends across Europe to break the silence and lobby for changes to the law. Origin labels should be the norm on processed meat products.

Do you trust your meat? Do you think manufacturers and supermarkets should display the origin of meat on the packaging?


Ignoring any eco commentary, and, on a good day, I personally don’t care if the pig that I eat comes from Poland or Portugal as long as the appropriate food standards (et al) are applied with the same rigour. Having said this I distrust the FSA, the farm and the subsequent processors equally. Knowing where the pig was born doesn’t make it a horse.

Norman Walker says:
14 September 2014

Welfare standards for your pig and their imposition differ between EU countries. UK has high standards and should be supported.

meat eat says:
15 January 2015

in fact farm animal welfare standards are pretty much the same across the EU and are set bu the EU.

Surely food safety depends upon how well the standards are independently policed and the sanctions taken for transgression or wilful avoidance?

” Do you trust your meat? Do you think manufacturers and supermarkets should display the origin of meat on the packaging?”

I must admit to be ing confused by some of the ideas expressed here. I have some slight knowledge of livestock farming and of the concept that there may be several meat sources in a single product line – as in Monday the production line switches from Danish to Polish bacon in the quiche. Or where it is more seasonal from New Zealand to Welsh lamb in a frozen casserole.

I view the labelling as a rather an expensive and fiddly gesture and to save a lot of useless effort printing window-dressing suggest that retailers pay a tax on sales of these products to pay for an efficient energetic food monitoring system that is not needlessly overbearing on the meat trade.

i think it does matter that we are told where our meat or an other food or otherwise comes from some people may not care as long as its cheap but we mostly care that its processed or produced to a cwetain standard i personally try to buy british and buy locally sourced products lets be honest supermarkets sell products sourced from the cheapest they can get away with for the most profit the adverts prove that by highlighting a product cheaper than its rivals the important thing is its your choice cheap ethical or british so accurate labelling is key

cjB8on says:
13 September 2014

I feel strongly that the meat scandal was just that – a scandal! I can’t believe that supermarkets are getting away with this kind of thing!! I agree with the comment above, that accurate labelling is key, it is then your choice whether you buy cheap ethical or British, so I too believe that this is the key!

Knowing where your meat originates is desirable. Arguably of more importance is knowing how well it was slaughtered. The inspection of meat products in abbatoirs has been shown in the past to be open to corruption resulting in tainted if not poisonous mixtures of meat being passed for human consumption.
We need to press for higher inspection standards in slaughterhouses even though this may be hard to verify.

Norman Walker says:
14 September 2014

How many consumers know all the options available to abbatoirs for slaughter of poultry and meat species, and which was used for the piece of meat on the shop counter?
Perhaps Which should use a page enlightening us on this complex matter. There is more to it than Halal or not.

It’s important to me to know that the animal was humanely reared and humanely slaughtered. I avoid all meats from ritually slaughtered animals, including animals which are said to have been pre-stunned (because I have no means of knowing that I’m being told the truth). I’ve generally tried to support British farmers and other food producers, particularly to keep as many jobs as possible within Britain, as well as being able to access welfare info via the web more easily. (This leads me to wonder whether I’ll be buying Scottish fresh produce after 18th September?) The only way to ensure first-class farm animal welfare is to keep pressing retailers to declare their efforts to maintain the best practices, how often they inspect, and the criteria they demand of their suppliers, all the way to and from slaughter. I’d rather pay a little more, or eat a little less, than be left in any doubt about the welfare of the animals whose meat I consume.

i totally agree about food labelling but am concerned that loopholes like union flag on produce packaged in uk which is obviously meant to mislead is there more? Considering these were drafted and checked by many people before final draft these misleading informations wre seen and passed.can you also explain why many years have been sent trying for humane slaughter and now according to newspapers there is an almost blanket use of hafal ritual slaughter where the only concession is a prayer .I am not particularly religious and am open minded but i want the right to choose with clear and ethical food labelling which does not try to recatagorise products to increase appeal.lets be frank the only reason for these practises is profit.Let the genuine get more profit for there efforts not the devious support british farmers english, scots ,welsh and irish and p.s.let the scots decide and good luck to them