Food Law News - EU - 2001

FSA Notice, 21 August 2001

LABELLING - New European Meat Definition for Labelling

A new Europe-wide definition of meat for food labelling purposes was agreed in Brussels last month. The definition will be implemented as an amendment to the Labelling Directive 2000/13/EC and will make the labelling of meat products more transparent for consumers. It standardises the declaration of meat ingredients in quantitative ingredient declarations (QUID), which requires the percentage of meat from each species to be given in the ingredients list on a pre-packed product.

A consultation was carried out in February amongst the main interested parties. Generally, there was support for the proposal especially from consumer groups who viewed the tightening of the definition of meat positively. There were some comments on the fat and connective tissue limits but the Commission's new definition represents the best compromise position.

The new definition will:

EU Member States will have until 1 January 2003 to implement the new definition into their national law but any products manufactured before that date and which are labelled under the existing UK rules can continue to be sold until stocks run out.

The new definition is tighter than the existing one in the UK's Meat Products and Spreadable Fish Products Regulations 1984. These Regulations will be reviewed to take note of these technical changes and align them with the Labelling Directive and QUID provisions. However, the new definition is not aimed at changing current manufacturing practices only their labelling information. The Agency will carry out a full public consultation on the implementation of the agreed definition into national law which will involve a review of the continued use of reserved descriptions for "burgers", "sausages", etc., and their minimum meat content.

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