Current food legislation, including Directive 13/2000, requires species labelling on meat products sold to the consumer. In addition, beef labelling regulations require detailed traceability and labelling of fresh cuts and pure mince at the retail level. In 2011, the European Union passed a new Council Regulation on Food Information for the Consumers (FIC) Regulation, No.1169/2011, which has updated the requirements for consumer information and labelling in a number of areas: country of origin or place of provenance including the origin labelling for meats other than beef; list of ingredients; quantitative indication of ingredients; minimum durability; use by date; date of freezing; substances or products causing allergies or intolerances; font size; etc. Many of these new requirements will have to be implemented by way of EU Commission Implementing Regulations and will come into force at the end of 2014.
While the Department of Health is the lead department in relation to food labelling, my Department together with the Department of Health and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) attend regular meetings of the Working Group on this legislation in Brussels which is currently discussing the mandatory origin labelling of fresh meat from species other than beef, voluntary origin labelling of foods and the mandatory origin labelling of meat as an ingredient. A report on this and other matters is to be submitted by the Commission to the FIC Working Group by 13 December 2013. The question of origin labelling of meat as an ingredient was discussed at the Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting yesterday, which I chaired. The Commission agreed to expedite the completion of its report.