Labelling plan for meat products could see food price rise

The EU
The EU
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

An EU Parliamentary Committee's proposal for mandatory country-of-origin labelling for processed meat products could drive up prices for consumers, according to a leading Irish food lawyer.

The Parliament will vote on whether to seek legislation from the Commission in February.

"It's a very consumer friendly proposal but it won't necessarily be workable," Trinity College lecturer Dr Caoimhin MacMaolain told the Irish Independent.

Dr MacMaolain said the places from which companies source meat continually change depending on price fluctuations, and that as a result companies would be forced to continually change their labelling unless they change their supplier.

"Suppose you're an Irish producer of an Irish processed product and you don't want to keep changing your labelling. . . what you will then do is get all your meat in from Ireland, but that might be more expensive. You can't now go to where the meat is cheaper.

"Some of the politicians on the Environment Committee were coming out with this stuff last week, that 90pc of consumers are interested in the origin of the meat that's in their products.

"But if you look at other studies, what they show is that actually the origin of the ingredients comes lower on the list of consumer preferences than things like price. Origin usually comes about fifth on the list, whereas price would tend to be higher than that, and other things like taste are higher than that."

Dr MacMaolain - whose book 'Food Law' will be published in February - said the proposal would be difficult to enforce because of the complexity of the meat market.

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"You've got lots of raw materials coming in from lots of different locations, where you've got food having to be able to move freely amongst all of the EU member states, and also then being able to move less restrictively on an international level . . . it's a very very difficult and complicated situation as a result."

Irish Independent

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