Meat Origin Labelling
Meat Origin labelling of Poultry, Pork, Sheep and Goats
Under the general labelling rules (FIC Regulation 1169/2011) it is up to the Food Business Operator to indicate the country of origin whenever its absence may mislead the consumer.
We know that the EU has implemented mandatory origin labelling for certain products such as beef & beef products, fish, honey, olive oil, fruit and vegetables. Since April 1st 2015 mandatory origin labelling was implemented for packaged meat products containing poultry, pork sheep and goats. But closer examination of the regulation outlines some exemptions or exclusions:
- The regulation does not apply to ‘loose’ foods or food packed at the request of the consumer.
- The regulation does not apply to processed foods- only whole cuts of fresh, chilled or frozen meat of poultry, pork sheep and goats.
- The regulation does not apply to origin of meat as an ingredient- currently breaded chicken or chicken in a marinade is considered ‘meat as an ingredient’
- The regulation does not require meat counters in butcher shop to use display labels with origin information for poultry, pork, sheep or goats (beef has had mandatory origin labelling since 2000; Regulation 653/2014). The idea being that your local butcher is on site to answer any questions you may have on the origin of the meat he/she is selling.
So what changes will be seen on packaged meat labels?
- All packaged or prepacked food containing whole cuts of poultry, pork, sheep or goats must display origin information.
- On a basic level the label should display 3 pieces of information:
a) ‘Reared In: (Member State or Third country)’
b) ‘Slaughtered In: (Member State or Third country)’
c) Batch Code (traceability code identifying the meat supplied to the consumer)
- Use of the phrase ‘Origin: (Member State or Third country)’- If the Food business operator can prove to the authorities that the meat was obtained from animals born, reared and slaughtered in one single Member State or Third country. The label would then contain 2 pieces of information:
a) Origin: (Member State or Third country), followed by
b) the batch number.
- The regulation also outlines in detail the indications for labelling according to rearing age, slaughter age or weight for each animal. This was deemed necessary as poultry would have a much shorter rearing than pigs, sheep or goats (for details see links below).
Although Regulation 1337/2013 only applies to origin labelling on packaged foods, the EU regulations provide that mandatory origin labelling may be extended to loose products by National rules. Minister Simon Coveney TD has indicated that his Department is working with the Department of Health to establish if this can be done under existing primary legislation.
Future work on origin labelling
FIC 1169/2011 specified other details on origin labelling for meat as an ingredient however these rules have not yet been developed by the European commission. Reports are being prepared for discussion on labelling requirements for a) meat used as an ingredient and b) if the origin of the primary ingredient (greater than 50% of a food) is from a different country. Based on conclusions from these reports proposals may be submitted to modify or amend the relevant EU provisions.
Labelling of Poultry, Pork, Sheep and Goats- Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1337/2013
National Legislation- SI 113 of 2015- European Union (Origin labelling of Meat) Regulations 2015
Beef labelling- Regulation (EU) No 653/2014