A new voluntary code of practice for labelling pork products is to be drawn up by Defra over so-called 'British' meat and aims to ensure packaging clearly displays the origin of the meat before processing.
It claims this will put an end to ambiguous labelling such as 'produced in Britain' where imported meat is processed in Britain and subsequently sold as a British product; however the labelling only proposes to apply to retailers who have voluntarily signed up to the code.
Consumers will not automatically be able to know exactly where the meat has come from in all stores. Even more importantly, consumers will still not know whether the meat or dairy product has been intensively produced.
Compassion in World farming believes that, in order to enable them to make informed choices, consumers not only must be given information as to where but also how the animals were reared. If labelling is voluntary, only products farmed to high standards of animal welfare will be labelled. Only mandatory labelling will identify intensively reared meat, poultry and dairy produce.
John Callaghan, Director of International Development for Compassion said "We welcome moves for more honest labelling. The remarkable rise in sales of non-cage eggs in many countries since the introduction of mandatory labelling of egg packs suggests that consumers are reacting positively to the availability of clear information as to farming method."
Compassion in World farming believes that a similar labelling method should be applied to poultry meat, pigmeat, beef and dairy products. In each case we suggest four possible labelling terms to denote the chief characteristics of the farming method used; each of these methods has a different potential to provide good welfare. In general the terms we suggest for each species are indoor intensive, indoor extensive, free range and premium free range."
The Defra proposed code is being established following meetings of Defra's Pig Meat Supply Chain Task Force, which brings together representatives from across the supply chain. All members of the group have signed up to the new code, includes major retailers Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury's as well as processors Cranswick, Vion and Tulip.
A step in the right direction
The code, expected to come into force from 1 February 2010, will mean pork products labelled 'British' will have to be produced from animals born, reared and slaughtered in Britain.
This is a step in the right direction but you can help our campaign for honest labelling on all animal products by donating today: