New food labelling rules will cause “massive confusion” for consumers who wish to buy British-produced meat, according to two leading farming organisations.
The EU Food Information Regulation (FIR) will introduce new mandatory labelling rules that make it compulsory to indicate where the stock has been reared and slaughtered.
Two leading farming organisations, the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the National Pig Association (NPA), have both warned that the new labelling system will mean shoppers will find it harder to buy British produce.
The NFU and the NPA argue that the rules should have been expanded to cover where the stock is born, as well as where it is reared and slaughtered.
According to these organisations, this would increase the confidence shoppers have in the origin of meat at a time when the industry is still recovering from the horse meat scandal.
The two farming bodies have concerns that the labels may give shoppers the impression that a product was produced in the UK, when in fact the animal was actually born in a different country.
Meurig Raymond, NFU deputy president, said: “We want to see the British government, retailers and the food processing industry taking a clear position to safeguard the integrity of the UK brand because we are concerned about the potential to mislead consumers on the use of flags and other marketing claims on origins of meat.”
Mr Raymond believes that since 2010, retailers and processors have been following the Country of Origin industry voluntary guidelines and any deviation from these will undermine the trust consumers have placed in the integrity of British farmers.
He added: “The Food Information Regulations are meant to provide consumers with transparency about where their food has come from and frankly this flies in the face of exactly that.”
NPA acting general manager Lizzie Press also feels that the new guidelines will cause confusion and require more explanation, compared to the Country of Origin labelling which was transparent and simple.