Food: Origin Marking

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 2nd June 2020.

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Photo of Richard Holden Richard Holden Conservative, North West Durham

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of requiring more detailed and extensive labelling of the country of origin on food products.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

In the UK we maintain high standards on the provision of information to consumers on food labels. Food is a devolved matter so I am replying in respect of England. However, the same rules currently apply across all of the UK.

Our current laws require origin labelling for foods where the consumer would be misled if the origin of the food were not given. This might happen on the label of, for example, a food clearly identified as ‘British’ by words or symbols but that was made elsewhere.

In addition there are rules for compulsory origin labelling of single ingredient foods including beef, veal, lamb, mutton, pork, goat and poultry meat, fish and shellfish, honey, olive oil, wine and most fruit and vegetables.

As of April this year the country of origin or place of provenance of a primary ingredient which is not the same as that given or indicated on a food as a whole must also be included on the label. For example, if a steak and ale pie is made by the English Pie Company but its main ingredient (beef) is from Argentina, the label must make that clear to the consumer.

Where origin information is not required but a producer wishes to provide it, it can still be on the label as long as it does not mislead the consumer.

We believe these measures together ensure that UK consumers are well informed about the true origin of the food they are eating.

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