31 March 1998
EC delays uniform beef labelling
By FWi staff
THE European Commission has pushed back the EU-wide beef labelling scheme by three months after continuing problems in getting the scheme up and running throughout Europe.
In contrast, the scheme is well under way in Britain, with many outlets seeking approval to label their beef, following the success of farmer demonstrations across the country at Christmas time.
Farmers successfully brought public attention to the devastating effect cheap imports were having on their local industry, and supermarket chains agreed to move towards full labelling which includes country of origin.
The deadline for the European Beef Labelling Scheme is now 30 June, 1998.
Jeff Rooker, food minister, said he was “disappointed” that the European Commission has further delayed the full introduction of this scheme by another three months.
Mr Rooker said the scheme would not only benefit consumers, who would have accurate information on the beef that they bought, but would also assist British farmers, who could be assured that imported beef could no longer be passed off as British.
“Despite the delay in Europe, I trust British operators will not relax their efforts and would urge those who have not yet applied, to do so at the earliest opportunity,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the National Farmers Union said: “The union believes beef should be labelled to insure transparency in the food chain from plough to plate.
“We want consumers to be given as much information as possible. With farm assurance schemes taking form across the UK, we are confident that we can maintain a high level of transparency in the food British farmers produce,” she said.