Farming unions call for ‘country of origin’ labels

Unions said the special status of products such as Scotch beef must be protected. Picture: Contributed

Unions said the special status of products such as Scotch beef must be protected. Picture: Contributed

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Both the UK and Scottish governments were this week urged to introduce mandatory country of origin labelling for processed food containing meat and dairy products in order to give shoppers a clear steer when they choose to buy British food.

And fears that some of the special status given to world-recognised products such as Scotch beef and lamb and Stilton cheese might be lost in the Brexit negotiations led to a call for these to be protected.

In a joint letter to Andrea Leadsom, the UK secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, farming unions said such a move would help remove uncertainty and give buyers more confidence when buying British food and increase transparency in the supply chain.

NFU Scotland also wrote to Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s rural economy secretary, requesting that the Scottish Government worked towards this end with Westminster.

Stating that more needed to be done to make labelling clearer, the farming unions called on the governments to consider the approach being taken on the continent: “The French government is now implementing a two-year trial of country of origin labelling for meat and milk in processed products while other European governments have outlined their plans to implement country of origin labelling for processed foods.”

They said that the UK government should move immediately to introduce origin labelling for meat and milk in processed products as part of strong national legislation to ensure the country had clear country of origin labelling in the future.

The unions also stressed the importance of continuing the use of protected food names, arguing that they guaranteed authenticity and origin and prevented imitation products from using the name.

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