Meat labels wide of the mark

Many food processors are falling down on retail labelling for their products, according to a survey for the Food Standards Agency, presented to EU experts in The Netherlands last week.

Although 94% of fresh meat in the study was clearly marked with its origin, this information appeared on less than one in five of the processed products and ready meals examined.

In total, 413 products on sale in supermarkets, corner shops and co-ops were studied, although origin claims were not verifide by the FSA.

Processors also needed to be better at telling shoppers where animals were born, reared and slaughtered on packaging, to avoid confusion over claims such as “produced in the UK” for Dutch bacon simply cured in Britain.

The FSA concluded that additional guidance on which “country of origin information” was required by law would be “useful” for processors to update its 2002 guidance.

It also wants to close the loophole that allows fresh beef that has simply been seasoned to avoid giving origin information.

An Asda spokeswoman said the supermarket’s meals already included the origin of meat on labels.