Mandatory origin labelling for meat: hurtful to business, consumers & environment
Nutrition and Health
Members of the European Parliament have recently called for mandatory country of origin labelling for the meat which is used as an ingredient in processed foods. Such a mandatory requirement could however have a strong impact on businesses, on consumers and on the environment. Indeed, consumers are increasingly interested in origin information, and many European companies have already responded to this by voluntarily providing information about the origin of their food products. Where there is a demand and where it is feasible, such information is often provided to consumers on the label on the product and, increasingly, via digital communication means such as websites and smart phone applications.
However, making this country of origin labelling mandatory (e.g. ham and salami on a pizza, meatballs in a soup, etc.) would have severe negative consequences not just for food manufacturers but also for farmers, retailers and consumers.
This labelling would most likely increase production costs and could create significant supply chain problems, disruptions and inefficiencies. This could potentially increase consumer prices and generate more food wastage. Furthermore, such a requirement would probably have a negative effect on international trade.
This means that calls for mandatory origin labelling go against important objectives of the EU, namely the free movement of goods in the Internal Market, the reduction of food wastage, and promoting economic growth – and therefore jobs - in the EU, to name but a few.
Before any decision is made, it is therefore important that a balanced and well-informed debate take place on this issue, to ensure that all the potential consequences are carefully assessed.