20 November 1998

Label mix-up rolls on

FARM minister Nick Brown is to hold meetings with individual retailers to try and clarify statements on labelling and sourcing meat.

Two weeks ago, Mr Brown left a meeting with six of the major retailers believing he had secured a breakthrough (News, Nov 6 and 13) after the British Retail Consortium said it would not label products containing imported pigmeat as British.

The agreement also stated that all imported pigmeat would meet British health and welfare standards by Jan 1, 1999.

But, in a letter to a British Pig Industry Support Group member, the BRCs food and drink executive John Morris admitted that some, but not all, imported pigmeat would meet UK standards by Jan 1, 1999 and that the BRC members did not intend to stop selling pigmeat products reared on meat and bonemeal as long as there was consumer demand.

In reply, the BPISG member said: "Consumers, through government, voted for a total ban on stall and tether systems and meat and bonemeal-fed pigs. How can the retailers claim that there is a demand for pigmeat from systems that contravene British legislation?"

Meanwhile, the campaign for better labelling of British pork products has resulted in improved sales, according to a survey released this week.

Tesco topped the list as the best supermarket for sourcing and labelling British pigmeat, according to the research commissioned by the British Pig Association.

Safeway, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer were also noted for their efforts. However, Sainsburys was found to label none of the British pork sold at its delicatessens while Iceland did not specify if its pork was British.

or not.