22 May 2000
Industry to fight EU label rules

By FWi staff

MEAT processors and farmers have united to fight new labelling proposals which they claim will add an extra 25 to the cost of processing beef cattle.

The British Meat Federation and National Farmers Union will send a joint delegation to Brussels to lobby European Ministers against the proposal.

The Council of Agriculture Ministers is due to meet on 7-8 June to finalise details of a new labelling regime, which is set to be introduced on 1 September.

It is proposed that all beef in shops will have to be labelled with the identification number of the animal or herd that the meat comes from.

If passed, the proposals will also require the labelling of the number and country of slaughterhouse and cutting plant where the meat was processed.

The labels will identify the category of the slaughtered animal, informing consumers whether it was a young bull, heifer, steer or veal calf.

But Peter Scott, BMF general secretary, said the federation was not opposed to country-of-origin labelling of beef.

But labelling the category of the animal slaughtered would offer nothing to consumers in terms of food safety, he claimed.

“Cattle will have to be segregated at markets and in the lairage, and line speeds will be slowed down to ensure the meat is properly labelled.”

Mr Scott predicted slaughterhouses would pass back to farmers most of the extra cost of introducing the regulations, estimated to be about 25 an animal.

Tim Bennett, NFU deputy president agreed that the union should lobby policymakers in Brussels as a joint delegation on the issue.

“It is vitally important that we win this one” he said.