British Agriculture and Food Labelling

Part of Opposition Day — [6th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 8:01 pm on 24th February 2009.

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Photo of Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy Minister of State (Farming and the Environment), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 8:01 pm, 24th February 2009

I am not sure that that is the case. If we were to have all country of origin information on all products, what would we do with, for example, a pizza that is entirely made in the UK but that might be made with imported wheat or cheese or pepperoni sausage? How much of that would have to go on the label? I do not agree that in all cases all the products need to be displayed on the label. If we start to consider narrowing that down, we come closer to the Opposition proposal, but I believe that that would fail the challenge that the European Commission would set it, as I have described.

That does not, however, mean that there might not be a case for having a more narrowly drawn definition. The Spanish asparagus case was mentioned. I understand that that was tinned Spanish asparagus, and that the European Commission has allowed it as an exception—as a demonstrably very narrowly drawn exception. Therefore, if we are to make progress and persuade the European Commission that there is something that we can do in the UK because of the danger of consumers being misled, we must be much smarter in how we do it and not use the blunderbuss approach suggested from the Conservative Front Bench.

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