23 June 2000
‘Euro-labels will raise beef costs 10%’

By FWi staff

EUROPEAN beef labelling rules could increase production costs by 10% – yet have no benefits for consumers, predicts the Meat and Livestock Commission.

EU farm ministers will vote on new labelling proposals in July, and intend to have the regulations in place by 1 September.

The regulations will require country of origin to be displayed on beef.

But the main area of concern within the meat industry is the “category” proposal which requires all beef to be labelled according to type, such as calf, young bull, steer or cow.

It is also proposed that labelling should be based on batches in cutting plants, the maximum size of which will be one days throughput.

Batches will have to be made up of animals from the same slaughterhouse and of the same category.

At a meeting this week, the MLC consumers committee agreed this type of information was of little or no interest to shoppers.

Yet the cost of separating categories of animals throughout the supply chain and the restrictions caused by stipulated batch sizes could add more than 10% to the cost of production, said MLC food law adviser Michael Fogden.

“This is more likely to be passed on to the producer than the consumer,” he said.

The MLC was part of a joint UK delegation, also including the National Farmers Union and British Meat Federation, which lobbied MEPs with their concerns earlier this month.

The delegation was hoping to persuade MEPs to vote against the controversial categorisation proposal in Parliament at the beginning of July.

EU farm ministers could then implement Parliaments version of the regulations when they meet towards the end of July.

They may, however, prefer to reintroduce the controversial proposals which would delay the implementation of the new labelling laws for “some months”, said Mr Fogden.