A majority of MEPs have voted yes in the first stage of food labelling amendments, taking them one step closer to becoming law. Meat from animals not stunned before slaughter, and meat from animals that have been slaughtered in a different country to the one in which they were reared, must be labelled as such.
Recently we asked you to write to your MEPs, urging them to vote on an amendment to proposed EU regulations on food information for consumers. This would ensure that all meat is clearly labelled, both in its provenance and as to how it was slaughtered.
A key principle of EU food law is that consumers should be able "to make informed choices in relation to the foods they consume" (Article 8 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002).
The European Parliament's Environment Committee voted on it this week, the majority supported the amendments and they have now been adopted. The MEPs voted that the following must be adhered to:
- The country or place of provenance must be given for all meat and poultry and that the country or place of provenance may be given as a single place for animals only where the animals have been born, reared and slaughtered in the same country or place. In other cases information on each of the different places of birth, rearing and slaughter shall be given. This is already the case for beef and veal. This could help us enormously in our work against long distance transport
- Meat derived from animals slaughtered without stunning must be labelled 'meat from slaughter without stunning'.
Now that the Environment Committee has passed these amendments, the next stage is the vote of the full European Parliament in July this year, and then the EU Council of Agriculture ministers. We are still a way off these laws being enacted, but we feel a major step forward has been made. It also shows the huge support throughout Europe for this to be put into place.
Clearer labelling will allow consumers to make informed choices about the food that they purchase. Animals slaughtered in the kosher way, and some killed for Halal meat, are not stunned prior to slaughter. Whilst this adheres to religious doctrine, and has a special dispensation in European law, we believe that animal welfare should always be paramount. Having these new labels available will give consumers the freedom of choice.
Consumers increasingly wish to know the provenance of food. Many consumers are concerned about the long distance transport of live animals and wish to know if an animal has been transported on a lengthy journey from one Member State to another for either fattening or slaughter. The Environment Committee's amendment would ensure that consumers are provided with this information.
These principles already apply to beef and veal, so to enforce it on all meat and poultry products would be an extension of a law already in place.
It is through your continued support and encouragement to MEPs that this law is making such good progress. We hope to keep up the momentum and make this law official.