Following a move this week by the French government to introduce such measures, NFU Scotland chief executive Scott Walker said that the gauntlet had been well and truly thrown down.
”If they can do it while remaining in Europe, we should find it much easier to achieve now that we are on our way out of the EU,” he said.
Walker said that politicians in the UK needed to be honest with farmers and crofters – and tell them if they wanted consumers to know the origin of meat and milk in processed foods.
“Or do they prefer consumers not to know from where the products come from?” asked Walker, writing in the union’s blog.
He said that time and time again the union had pressed Scottish and UK politicians to introduce clear country of origin labelling: “Of the many reasons given as to why it can’t be done, the most oft used is that EU rules don’t allow it,” he said “Well that’s not an excuse they will be able to use for much longer!“
He said that France had shown that where there was a will there can be a way, an approach he wanted to see from UK politicians: “What we need, more than anything, is a change of attitude within ministerial circles: an attitude of ‘can do’ rather than one that instantly searches out for reasons why things can’t be done.”
Walker said that as a result of their approach, France had been given the backing of the EU Commission to go ahead with thei rplans for mandatory country of origin labelling for a trial period – and that it looked like Italy, Portugal and Lithuania would follow suit.
He said that while some food manufacturers were keen to keep their sources a mystery, some were proud to support UK farmers and growers – but he added that 90 per cent of consumers wanted to know where any meat they ate came from.