The European Commission has rejected proposals to introduce mandatory country-of-origin labeling on dairy products.
Mandatory labelling rules are already in place for beef, poultry, lamb, pork and other products, including honey, eggs, olive oil, wine, spirits drinks and several fruit and vegetables.
But a report published by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Agriculture (PDF file) on Wednesday (20 May) concluded that mandatory origin labelling for dairy products and minor meats, such as horse and rabbit, would increase costs of production and disrupt cross-border trade.
It also concluded consumers were “not willing to pay more for the additional information” and suggested existing options for voluntary labelling could address some consumer demands, while retaining flexibility for member states and food operators.
A commission spokeswoman said the European Parliament and council would now review the report before a decision is taken on the most suitable way forward.
Dairy UK, a trade association that represents the interests of producer co-ops, milk processors, dairy farmers and doorstep deliverymen, said it was “disappointed” by the findings of the report.
Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive, said: “A mandatory labelling system would help the UK dairy industry showcase its products and reassure consumers on their provenance. Our milk, cheese, yoghurt and all our great British dairy products are a staple of the UK diet and we should be proud of what we produce.
“Country-of-origin labelling should be more than just an option; a strong recognition of the British dairy industry’s hard work to deliver nutritious and wholesome products to consumers.”
Dairy UK has called for mandatory country-of-origin labelling for many years, with the support of Defra and the Dairy All-Party Parliamentary Group.