In 2011 the European Union passed a new Council Regulation on Food Information for the Consumers (FIC), Regulation 1169/2011, which has updated the requirements for consumer information and labelling in a number of areas including; country of origin or place of provenance including the origin labelling for meats other than beef, voluntary labelling of all foods and the mandatory labelling of meat as an ingredient. These requirements will have to be implemented by way of EU Commission implementing regulations and it is expected that they will come into force between 13 December 2013 and the end of 2014.
The question of how to label processed meat products that are made from raw material imported from one country but “substantially transformed” in another country will be part of the discussions in relation to the country of origin labelling of meats other than beef and the voluntary and mandatory labelling of other foods and meat as an ingredient.
In considering this matter account has to be taken of the need to ensure that Irish meat continues to be exported for further processing to other EU and third countries as this is vital to the maintaining out livestock industry and the 80,000 who have a livestock enterprise. In addition regard must be had to the many Irish companies (and their employees) who process both Irish and other raw material into value added products for consumption on the domestic and overseas market and who are an important part of our agri-food industry.
However I am acutely aware of the concerns of consumers and their need to be informed as to the source and content of the processed meat products they are consuming. In this context acting in my capacity as Chairman of the Agriculture Council, I recently arranged with the Member States and the EU Commission for an EU wide coordinated programme to be implemented which will include additional DNA testing of meat, to establish the extent of the mislabelling problem across the EU.