Beef and lamb promotion body EBLEX has called for a new debate on the labelling of meat products in the wake of the horsemeat burger scandal.
Clearer labelling on meat products to aid consumer choice and demonstrate greater transparency is needed to safeguard long-term consumer confidence in beef and lamb products, said the organisation for the English beef and sheep industry.
Nick Allen, EBLEX sector director, said: “Commingling of meats of different country of origin has been repeatedly raised by consumers as a concern in recent years.
“We would support calls for clear, simple labelling and welcome a debate on the issue.
“We need to move this debate on to find lasting solutions by putting an end to commingled products which mix UK meat with imported meat, as well as clearer labelling of all ingredients in products to ensure consumers can make a conscious buying decision.”
Peter Kendall, NFU president
“Origin is important to people. They want to know provenance and exactly what is in the product they are buying.
“While it is accepted that lower value meat products are unlikely to contain as high a proportion of beef than at the quality end of the market, the contents still need to be clearly labelled on the packet.”
The NFU has called for retailers to re-examine their sourcing and labelling policies.
NFU president Peter Kendall said the horsemeat burger scandal had “undermined confidence in the UK food industry”.
Farmers were “rightly angry” that the integrity of stringent UK-farmed products was being compromised by cheaper imported alternatives, which did not meet our standards, he added.
Mr Kendall called on retailers to take immediate action to address the integrity of their suppliers and ensure that UK products were clearly labelled.
“We need to move this debate on to find lasting solutions by putting an end to commingled products which mix UK meat with imported meat, as well as clearer labelling of all ingredients in products to ensure consumers can make a conscious buying decision,” he said.
“All retailers need to engage better with Red Tractor assurance, increasing the use of the logo on pack, and focusing on the longer term sustainability of their UK supply chains. These changes would benefit retailers, farmers and most importantly, the consumer.”