Food Law News - EU - 2000

18 April 2000: BEEF - Beef Labelling : Political Agreement will Provide More and Better Information for Consumers

MAFF News Release (140/00), 18 April 2000

Beef Labelling : Political Agreement will Provide More and Better Information for Consumers

A Community-wide system of rules for the compulsory labelling of beef reached political agreement at the EU Agriculture Council last night. Speaking in Luxembourg afterwards Joyce Quin, Minister of Agriculture for England, said:
"I am very pleased that the Council has managed to resolve its differences on this complicated dossier. If the resulting text is approved by the European Parliament, as I believe it will be, consumers in the UK can look forward to clearer, more informative labels on the beef they buy. The introduction of compulsory labelling will ensure that beef described as being of British origin is indeed British and that beef of other origin is clearly labelled as such. I know that both consumers and beef producers in the UK will welcome this."

The result of this agreement must now be put to the European Parliament, but there is every likelihood that the new system will come into force on 1 September 2000 as planned.

Title 2 of Regulation EC No 820/97 introduced a voluntary labelling scheme for beef. It envisaged that a compulsory scheme would be put into effect from 1 January 2000, but in practice the Council found it impossible to meet that deadline. In December 1999, the Council adopted Regulation 2772/99 extending the operation of the voluntary scheme until 31 August 2000. In the meantime, it has been working on the rules for the compulsory scheme and has now reached agreement on these subject to consideration by the European Parliament.

If the Parliament accepts the Council's conclusions, the first stage of the compulsory scheme can come into effect on 1 September. This will provide for most beef sold to consumers to show the Member State in which it was slaughtered and cut/deboned and the approval numbers of the relevant establishments. The second stage is due to come into force on 1 January 2002 and will require, in addition, that most beef is labelled by reference to its country of origin.

Slightly less rigorous rules will apply to minced beef, but consumers will be informed as of the start of the system of the country in which the meat was minced, and of the country in which the animals from which the meat was derived were slaughtered.

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