Food Law News - EU - 2000

2 March 2000: BEEF - Public Health and the Beef Sector: Traceability, Checks and Labelling

EESC News Release (CES/00/12), 2 March 2000

Public Health and the Beef Sector: Traceability, Checks and Labelling

The European Economic and Social Committee today adopted an opinion on the European Commission's proposal regarding the labelling of beef and beef products. The rapporteur was Mr David EVANS (Employers' Group, UK).

Given the complex nature of the objectives being pursued, the Committee has serious doubts about the wisdom of combining in a single regulation such issues as the traceability of animal movements and labelling of beef and veal.

The Committee stresses the importance of public health considerations and the need to rapidly establish an appropriate legislative framework for beef labelling so that the current arrangements do not have to be extended. Accordingly, the Committee calls on the Commission to step up its checks on Member States' implementation of Regulation (EC) 820/97 and to draw up an interim report on compliance with the current identification and labelling provisions. To this end, the Committee stresses the importance of conducting appropriate checks at all stages in the supply chain.

The Committee supports the proposed requirement to indicate the approval number of the slaughterhouse or de-boning plant on the label. This is a welcome provision as it will help to restore consumer confidence in beef. The Committee does not in principle think that small retail butchers should be exempted from the new regulation.

The Committee rejects the Commission's proposal that the label must include an indication of the maturation period. It also feels that the indication of quality parameters should be voluntary.

Lastly, the Committee regrets that the Commission does not propose any specific measures regarding minced beef, beef trimmings or cut beef. It asks the Commission to give special priority to these problems and resolve them before January 2003. The Committee also regrets that the requirement for the origin of the animal to be indicated on the label is not to come into effect until 1 January 2003.

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