Without correct and complete labelling there is no choice!

14 November 2014

SAFE1mediumOn the 11 of November 2014, the Italian Presidency of the EU organized in the European Parliament in Brussels a conference titled “Food safety and quality towards Expo 2015”.

SAFE was present and here below you will find a short summary of the main issues discussed by the panelists. During the meeting, only the position of the agro food industry was represented and nobody seemed to be particularly concerned about consumer interests.

Country of origin labeling for meat and other foods

EU food legislation requires the indication of country of origin for honey, fruits, vegetables, fish, olive oil and beef. Regarding meat labeling, country of origin is compulsory only for fresh beef but not for processed meat, chicken, pork, sheep and goat. As of December 2014, EU consumers will know only the country where the pork, sheep, goat meat and chicken have been bred and slaughtered. The main problem is that EU citizens will not be informed about the country of origin of those animals. In particular, processed meat such as ham, salami or nuggets etc. will not have a mandatory country of origin labelling.

By December 2014, the European Commission will submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council regarding mandatory indication of the Country of origin or place of provenance for:

  • meat (other than beef, swine, sheep, goat and poultry),
  • milk and milk as ingredient in dairy products,
  • unprocessed foods,
  • single ingredient products and ingredients that constitute over 50 % of a food.

The MEPs members of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI) in the European Parliament will discuss the report of the European Commission.

MEP positions

Concerning food labelling, MEP Renate Sommer (Group of European’s People Party), member of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee ENVI Committee declared: “consumers have the right to be informed about what is in the food they buy”. However, she added “We should not have packaging with too much information written on because it is confusing for consumers. Broad country of origin labelling could lead to discrimination against certain countries. And the labelling could be too expensive for the food industry; additional costs will certainly be paid by consumers”.

Of the same view was MEP Pilar Ayuso (Group of European’s People Party) member of the ENVI Committee who was mainly worried that country of origin labelling could create serious problems to product exportation in the EU. In addition, she underlines the excellent job of done by EFSA, declaring the absolute lack of conflict of interest in the European Authority. Panelist Alberto Spagnolli, Head of Executive office Unit, confirmed such a statement and he declared, “EFSA operate with absolute transparency for the European consumers using only independent scientific studies”.

Industry positions

Mella Frewen, Director General of FoodDrinkEurope, believed that country of origin labelling will dramatically increase costs for the agro food industry, the cost impact could increase up to 50 %.

FoodDrinkEurope, which represents the European food and drink industry in Brussels, is clearly against excessive labelling information on food and in particular country of origin labelling.

Gianpietro Corbari, General Director of Granarola, an Italian Food Company, disagreed and he declared that the country of origin labelling would not increase costs at all. In case there would be some additional costs, these would be insignificant.

MEP Giovanni La Via, chairman of the ENVI committee, considers it the right of consumers to be informed about the country of origin of the food they buy and eat. Fortunato Amarelli, CEO of the company Amarelli, agreed with MEP La Via and he was deeply convinced about the importance of such labelling.

SAFE believes that consumers need to be able of making informed choices. Without correct and complete labelling there is no choice!

– Floriana Cimmarusti, Founder of SAFE