Retailers back calls for better food labelling

Tesco has vowed to improve labelling on its meat products to give consumers more information about the products were produced.

The decision follows the campaigning by the Tories as part of its Honest Food Campaign, which was launched in February in a bid to encourage retailers sign up to a voluntary code to improve country of origin information.

Retailers were warned a Conservative government would introduce legislation to force supermarkets to improve labelling on meat and meat products if they did not sign up voluntarily.

Tesco’s pledge follows similar agreements by Waitrose, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons to make it clear to consumers where products containing 10% meat are produced and processed.

Shadow DEFRA Secretary Nick Herbert said consumers and producers would benefit from improved country-of-origin labelling and criticised the government for not taking action sooner.

“The government has been talking about country of origin for months but has done next to nothing to achieve it,” he said.

“It’s been a formal government policy that it didn’t matter where food came from and there’s a growing recognition that that’s a mistake.

“In the age of food security we should be looking at raising food production in a sustainable manner. We should be building the connection between farming and consumers in Britain, and farmers here have a huge opportunity to produce more.”

Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Tesco corporate and legal affairs executive director, said the retailer was happy to back the campaign.

“It is very important to provide clear information so customers can make informed choices,” she added.

Martin Haworth, NFU director of policy, urged other retailers to back the campaign.

“We hope the new EU legislation on food labelling is used to make the country of origin labelling clearer so that consumers can make more informed choices when they shop. However, the new legislation will take years to come into effect so if the UK can move towards voluntarily labelling for country of origin this will allay our – and consumers’ – concerns.

“We look forward to seeing more evidence of retailer support for country-of-origin labelling on supermarket shelves.”

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