Thursday’s announcement from Defra on new food labelling proposals is extremely disappointing for British consumers.
For more than two years the government has dithered and reneged on promises to set out standardised and honest labelling proposals of meat and dairy products to include country of origin and methods of production.
Proposals announced yesterday by Environment Secretary, Steve Barclay MP, at Oxford’s Farming Conference, focus on a “buy British button,” but ignores superior European welfare standards and still does nothing to enhance consumer trust.
World Farming UK has said that we must see the government “taking meaningful action” to put an end to murky labelling confusion once and for all and create transparency, should the “UK want to truly be seen as world leaders.”
Anthony Field, Head of Compassion in World Farming UK, said, “Whilst it’s welcome to propose consistent and mandatory labelling across all meat and dairy products, unfortunately these proposals appear to be a poor relation to what was originally on the table – labelling that would include animal welfare information.
“It is imperative that meat and dairy labels not only include the country of origin, but also the method of production. A ‘buy British button’ on supermarket websites will simply identify domestic products,but does nothing to help build trust with consumers on animal welfare issues or direct consumers to higher welfare products, whether British or otherwise.
“Despite claims, British meat and dairy products do not always meet, or exceed world-leading animal welfare and environmental standards.
“One in five UK hens are kept in enriched cages for example, yet our European counterparts in Austria and Luxembourg already have a ban in force, whilst Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia will follow in 2025, 2027 and 2030 respectively.
“France, meanwhile, have banned the installation of any new cages. In addition, over 50% of UK sows are confined to farrowing crates, in which they cannot even turn around, for nine or ten weeks of the year, sometimes longer, yet these crates have been banned for several years in Switzerland, Norway and Sweden.
“Even Germany – one of the two biggest pig producers in Europe, will enforce a ban, restricting the use of crates to 5 days after giving birth, in 2035 and Austria from 2033.
“It’s time the Government stops tinkering around the edges of this issue and introduces clear, honest labelling on meat and dairy products with not only the country of origin, but also the method of production.
“We need to see the government taking meaningful action and put an end to murky labelling confusion and create transparency, if the UK wants to truly be seen as world leaders in animal welfare and environmental standards.”