24 November 1999
Labels won’t put French off our beef — Brown

By FWi staff

AGRICULTURE minister Nick Brown has denied that concessions made to France over the beef dispute will put French consumers off eating British Beef.

Mr Brown has agreed that France will be able to label all exports of British beef in return for an end to the French ban on cross-Channel shipments.

Beef could be exported to France as early as next month if the French food agency agrees to the measure when it meets at the beginning of December, said Mr Brown.

“If its a positive response, which I very much hope it will be, the French government will then be able to recommence its parliamentary procedure to life the ban.”

But Mr Brown rejected the idea that labelling British beef exports sold in France would effectively act as a health warning to French consumers.

“It has always been our intention to clearly label the product, and indeed if you think about it, its difficult to see how it could be otherwise,” he told BBC Radio 4.

Shadow farm minister Tim Yeo accused Mr Brown of failing to secure a satisfactory deal for British farmers and the meat industry.

“All meat sold in Europe should have its country-of-origin labelled,” he said.

“That would clearly satisfy the French and any minister who was worth his salt, who was a bit stronger than Nick Brown, who have negotiated that.”

Mr Brown rejected the accusation. Clear labelling always was a condition of the date-based export scheme and nothing had changed, he said.

The government and the industry always intended British beef leaving the country for export to be clearly labelled, said Mr Brown.

“We always intended that because it was a clear condition of the scheme.”

The export scheme was negotiated by the last Conservative government and the Labour government was now implementing it, said Mr Brown.