Alyn Smith MEP has today backed a consumer campaign by consumer association Which? to include the country of origin on milk and other dairy products.
According to Which?, 83% of UK consumers think it is important that country of origin is labelled on dairy products, with 81% agreeing it is important for milk.
Alyn, Scotland’s only voice on the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said:
“I have to say, Which? are absolutely on the button here. I’ve been calling for country of origin labelling since at least 2009.
“It’s no secret that the dairy sector is struggling, and I think there are a lot of resources in the EU toolkit that we can use to take advantage. For example, the UK Government could be pushing mandatory written contracts, promoting producer organisations and, yes, labelling milk and dairy products with their country of origin.
“As part of its effort to support dairy farmers, the Scottish Government launched a new Scottish dairy brand at the Royal Highland show last month. Labelling is a tricky issue, because you can have a cheese produced in Scotland but made from milk imported from Northern Ireland, for example.
“Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has said the prohibitive administrative costs are a major barrier to making country of origin labelling mandatory, as the Commission is trying to reduce the burden on member states.
“For the time being, voluntary labelling is our best option. I would suggest that clear, prominent, and easy-to-understand country of origin labelling would be a very good way to restore consumer confidence in the wake of the horsemeat lasagne scandal of 2013.
“It is vital that we be able to trust our food, be clear about its origin, and be able to make an informed choice.”