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Food Labelling

Volume 502: debated on Thursday 10 December 2009

19. What recent discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on country of origin food labelling. (305593)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave a few moments ago. I am delighted to see that we have been joined by the hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire (Mr. Paice). We were a bit worried that since the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds had promoted him to the Privy Council and shadow Secretary of State in its press release this week, he might have been banished by his colleagues.

Having heard the exchange between my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick Herbert) and the Minister on this subject, I am confused about the Government’s position. Will the Minister now clearly say that he supports the Which? campaign for country-of-origin food labelling and backs British food?

We do support the campaign for clearer country-of-origin labelling. We took a different position from Europe in respect of mandatory labelling for everything. That would have meant labels a foot long on pizzas identifying the source of every bit of pepperoni. We want clearer labelling so that we can have informed consumer choice and support British agriculture.

Given that meat production generates six times more greenhouse gas emissions than the production of fish, cheese or vegetables, should CO2 emissions related to food products not also be included in any future labelling system? Would that not be one of the most effective means of adapting to climate change?

I can tell my hon. Friend that agriculture is making great efforts to reduce the impact of the carbon that it produces. It is very supportive of every effort to increase sustainable production and is doing what it can to tackle climate change.