Food production and labelling in the countries of the European Union operate in accordance with harmonised rules and member states controls are subject to audit and supervision by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of the EU.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) under the aegis the Minister for Health has overall responsibility for the enforcement of food safety and labelling requirements in Ireland. It carries out this remit through service contracts with my Department and other agencies including the Health Service Executive (HSE), Local Authority Veterinary Service and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.
The general labelling of foodstuffs is controlled under Directive 2000/13/EC, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs, as amended. This legislation is transposed into Irish law by European Communities (Labelling, Presentation and Advertising of Foodstuffs) Regulations 2002 (S.I. 483 of 2002). Under this legislation, the place of origin of foodstuffs in circulation within the EU is required to be declared only where failure to provide it would be likely to mislead the consumer.
Inspections to ensure compliance with labelling legislation are carried out by a variety of inspection services provided by the HSE and my Department under the aforementioned contracts.
The Food Information for the Consumer Regulation (1169/2011/ EC) provides inter alia for mandatory country of origin/place of provenance labelling. This Regulation extends mandatory origin/provenance labelling, already applying in the case of beef, to pigmeat, sheepmeat and poultry. The Commission has been asked to bring forward its proposals in relation to the mandatory origin/provenance of these meats to September so that the detailed rules can be adopted by the end of this year. It is intended that the legislation will come into effect in 2014.
EU labelling legislation does not include references to the standards of husbandry production. Such issues are governed by other legislation relating to animal health and welfare. The EU Food and Veterinary Office audit the controls of the importing countries for equivalent standards before that country is authorised to import meat into the EU.