Chicken thigh packaging label

Fresh, chilled and frozen poultrymeat sold in pre-packs now have to state the country of origin under new EU laws which come into force today, (1 April).

The move follows the introduction of similar legislation for beef in 2002, which is now being extended to chicken, ducks, geese and turkeys, as well as sheep, goats and pigs.

The new rules require the label to indicate the country which the bird was “reared in” and “slaughtered in”. In the case of poultrymeat, this means the country in which it spent the last month of its life.

If it was born, raised and slaughtered in the same country – as is often the case with poultry – then the label can simply state the “origin” country.

See also: New labelling rules risk massive confusion

According to the EU Commission, the rules “reflect the consumer interest above all in the place where animals are farmed”. Making suppliers specify where the bird or animal was born as well (as is the case for beef, and as the NFU was arguing for), would have added unnecessary cost and complexity.

A statement from the Irish department of agriculture explained that the new legislation covers whole birds and cuts of poultry, and applies to sales to both end consumers and to mass caterers.

But it does not cover products which have been subject to further processing, such as chicken kievs or stuffed chicken breasts. Loose poultrymeat is also exempt.

“Also, if you purchase meat from a butcher and ask for it to be packed, there is no obligation for the butcher to label this with origin information,” said a statement.

The requirement for country of origin labelling across all meats would “add transparency for consumers”.