18 July 2000
Relief at beef labelling climbdown
By FWi staff
FARMING and meat industry representatives have welcomed the decision by European agriculture ministers to water down controversial beef-labelling laws.
On Monday (17 July) ministers voted to drop a clause under which packs of beef would have to show if the meat came from a bull, steer, cow or calf.
The European Farm Council had been under pressure to ditch this after the Strasbourg Parliament voted to drop the clause last week.
Industry representatives had lobbied for the proposal to be dropped claiming it would add 5% to beef prices for little consumer benefit.
National Farmers Union deputy president Tim Bennett welcomed the decision and thanked other groups for their support.
“Including an absurd sex label would have cost Britains recovering beef industry dear while providing nothing more for consumers,” he said.
“We had a strong case for amending this legislation and the NFU pursued it through all possible routes.
“I am grateful that the British Retail Consortium and this countrys meat industry added their weight to our campaign and our efforts have paid off.”
National Farmers Union of Scotland livestock committee chairman David Mitchell said: “Sense has finally prevailed.
“Having achieved our victory in the European Parliament, the endorsement by the Council of Ministers was the final hurdle – which we have now crossed.
Sion Aron, commodities officer at the Farmers Union of Wales, also welcomed the decision.
There would have been no benefits to the consumer from the proposed categorisation, he said.
“We are pleased the commission is instead concentrating its efforts on relevant information such as traceability and area of origin.”
Don Curry, chairman of the Meat and Livestock Commission said teamwork among the industry had persuaded the EU to take a “common sense” approach.
“No-one, particularly the farmer, wants to see the price of beef rise just because of a Brussels ruling which would have offered no help or guidance to the consumer or industry.”
From 1 September, retail packs will have to give the member state or third country of slaughter and cutting, plus the number of the abattoir and cutting hall.
Labels on mince must state where the animal involved was slaughtered and where the product was prepared, from the same date.
And from 1 January, 2002 beef labels will also have to include the country where the animal was born and reared.