Good News For Scottish Farmers On Place Of Origin Labelling

20 April 2011
Alyn Smith MEP, Scottish full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, has welcomed a vote in the Environment Committee (ENVI) which will make mandatory the labelling of country of origin for all meat, dairy, and single-ingredient products, as a triumph for Scottish farming's long-standing campaign on this issue.
The second reading of the Sommer Report for Food Information to Consumers, which passed through ENVI with an overwhelming majority, also called for the place of birth, rearing and slaughter to be labelled if different, and that the country of provenance for meat, dairy and fish products must be indicated if used as an ingredient in processed food. This provides a strong basis for the Parliament to negotiate with the European Council, which has adopted a weaker stance on labelling.

ENVI also responded positively to Mr Smith's campaign to make compulsory the labelling of artificial trans fatty acids on packaging: the Council of Ministers only wanted this to be voluntary.

Smith said:

"We've been kicking compulsory place of origin labelling forward for some time so it's good to see the European Parliament defend this point so strongly - especially at this stage in the negotiations where there can be a strong temptation to water down proposals in order to reach a compromise.

"It is clear that in the current marketplace, with concerns about carbon emissions and food miles, consumers want to know where their food comes from, and Scottish farmers, who are renowned for producing top quality produce, are in a strong position to benefit from this. To claim that providing more information to consumers is somehow a violation of the internal market is just a spurious argument, and I'm glad the Committee treated it as such. It is also pleasing to see that we've taken measures to stamp out attempts to mislead the customer, for example by pretending that cattle which are only slaughtered in Scotland produce "Scottish beef". From now on, the packaging must indicate the true place of origin.

"I've been campaigning for some time for EU regulations to limit the amount of industrial trans fats in food. We can't do that with this legislative file, but we can make compulsory the labelling of the TFA content which is the next best thing. There is masses of scientific evidence which links TFAs to cardiovascular disease: one study showed that a 2% intake in energy from TFAs was associated with a 23% increase in the incidence of coronary heart disease. They have also been linked to obesity, diabetes, cancer, neurological disorders, blindness, liver disease and infertility. It's clearly long past time we did something about it, so this is a good start.

"Now the file moves on to plenary, so I'll be fighting for a similarly positive result there."