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News 435 views last update:Nov 17, 2008

UK meat labelling - could do better?

New guidance from the Food Standards Agency on labelling the country of origin of meat is a step in the right direction say two of Britain's leading meat bodies.

Both EBLEX and BPEX have highlighted the need for clear, transparent labelling so the consumer is left in no doubt about what they are buying. he FSA guidelines are aimed at benefiting consumers by encouraging industry to adopt consistent labelling practices.

The objective of the guidance is to help food businesses, including manufacturers, producers, retailers and caterers, to comply with the law and avoid misleading labelling. It will also assist enforcement authorities in identifying misleading country of origin labelling.

EBLEX Chief Executive Richard Lowe said: “There is plenty of existing legislation which says labels should not mislead consumers, but we still see sporadic examples of poor labelling and merchandising practice.

“Our extensive research of consumers' understanding of labels conducted last winter showed a spectrum of good to bad labelling practice. We know shoppers' desire for country of origin information on meat packs is higher than for any other food category.”

BPEX Chief Executive Mick Sloyan said: “BPEX's engagement with retailers has seen labelling practice improve, especially on fresh meat, but there remain many examples of poor practice with regard to processed and cured pork products. “It will be interesting to see whether during this year's festive season origin labelling of gammon is improved as that has in the past sometimes been rather suspect.”

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