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Meat: Origin Marking

Volume 458: debated on Monday 12 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate he has made of the percentage of imported foreign meat that was subsequently labelled as being British in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement; (125182)

(2) what steps he is taking to prevent imported foreign meat being labelled as British.

Where meat has been subject to substantial processing, it is permissible to describe as its origin the country where that change took place. If the absence of information might mislead consumers, then Guidance on Country of Origin Labelling and Clear Food Labelling produced by the Food Standards Agency suggests that both the origin of the meat and the country where the processing takes place should be declared in order to facilitate informed consumer choice. More restrictive rules apply to beef and poultry meat that has not been processed.

Ultimately, the use of misleading labelling, including information on the country of origin, is governed by the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 and the Food Safety Act 1990. The Food Standards Agency is currently revising its Guidance, and my Department is closely involved with this.