28 October 1999
‘Labelling will boost bureaucracy’

INCREASING detailed labelling on British meat will simply add to costs and create bureaucracy, claims a spokesman for slaughterers and meat processors.

Peter Scott, general secretary of the British Meat Federation, gave this warning as agriculture minister Nick Brown prepares to outline his plans for changing labelling on British produce.

Yesterday the minister announced a British food kitemark to tell consumers if a product is British.

But Mr Scott, speaking on Radio 4s Farming Today programme, cautioned against compulsory traceability labelling.

“We already label on a voluntary basis and the voluntary scheme is stricter than anything Ive seen on Continent.

“Were happy to label beef is British and justify claims made for it.

“But if on top of that, the minister adds compulsory labelling, tracing back to individual animals, hes creating more costs and bureaucracy for an industry which is already squeaking.

“Hes minded to try and reduce both of those at the moment.”

At present imported goods processed in this country can be passed off as British.

At an NFU conference on British food yesterday, there were calls for a British quality mark

NFU market research reported that while 75% of the public believed British produce was best, only 40% thought it was clearly labelled.

Some experts thought it would be best to start labelling fresh produce first, as processed food could be more complicated.

Others cautioned against food nationalism, as claiming home-produced food is better than another EU members produce breaks European law.