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All meat to be labelled with country of origin

News Section Icon Published 29/06/2011

A small success for Compassion
Compassion in World Farming welcomes a new piece of legislation that will make it compulsory to label the country of origin for all fresh pork, lamb and poultry meat in the EU. A separate piece of legislation for labelling beef was already introduced during the BSE crisis in the 1990s.

Thanks to you!
Thank you to all our supporters who wrote to MEPs urging them to vote on an amendment to proposed EU regulations on food information for consumers. We are a step closer to ensuring that all meat is clearly labelled, to help consumers identify welfare issues for the animals reared for their meat, but still have some way to go.

There's more to be done
With our supporters' help, Compassion has been lobbying the Government for some years for this regulation to be introduced. However this new legislation will only make it compulsory for the origin of the meat to be labelled. Compassion is pushing for labelling that will identify not only the animal's place of birth but also where it was reared and slaughtered. At the moment, for example, shoppers are unwittingly buying chickens that have been intensively reared. Clear labelling could prevent this.

Why are labels important?
Detailed labelling would enable consumers to identify if the animals have been transported live from one country to another, or if the animal was slaughtered without first being stunned. Consumers increasingly wish to know the provenance of food and this would give them enough information to make informed choices about the food they purchase.  

What the European Commission is proposing
The European Commission says: "The Commission must examine within two years after the entry into force of the new regulation the possible extension of the compulsory labelling of the country of origin to meat used as an ingredient. One year later, the Commission must examine the same question with regard to other types of meat (than beef, pork, lamb and poultry), milk, milk used as an ingredient, unprocessed foods, single-ingredient products and ingredients that represent more than 50% of a food."
The new Regulation is yet to be finalised - the next stage is the vote of the full European Parliament in July this year, and then the EU Council of Agriculture ministers.

What to look for when buying meat
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. When buying beef or veal, Compassion recommends consumers buy British and especially British organic and to look out for "grass fed" on the label to ensure the cows have experienced a higher welfare.

Click here to find out about other animal produce labels.


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If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).