FSA Consultation Letter, 26 July 2007
For a copy of the consultation documents, see: Proposed Meat Products Amendments
The Agency seeks comments on the Meat Products ( England ) (Amendment) Regulations 2008 and guidance on labelling of 'added ingredients' in Meat Product Regulations (MPR) regulation 5, meat products. Responses are requested by: 30 November 2007.
The draft Meat Products ( England ) (Amendment) Regulations 2008 implement changes to European legislation resulting from revocation of Council Directive 77/99/EEC.
In addition, draft FSA guidance has been issued on legal requirements (including those resulting from the amending legislation) and best practice advice on the labelling of added ingredients in meat products which have the appearance of ‘plain' meat.
The above are included in the same consultation package, as they both relate to regulation 5 of the Meat Products ( England ) Regulations 2003 (the MPR). Each is accompanied by its own Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA).
The key proposals are to:
The proposed amendment Regulations bring labelling requirements for added starch and protein in meat products (that look like a cut, joint, slice, portion or carcase of meat or cured meat) into line with European labelling requirements. In this case, protein means any protein of either animal (same species to the meat) or vegetable origin. It is important to note that the current requirements for the labelling of added ingredients of animal origin from a different species to the meat, including in so far as they relate to proteins, will remain (i.e. regulation 5(2)(a) of the MPR 2003).
In particular, the legislative change removes the name of the food labelling requirements related to added starch and protein from regulation 5 and the related exemption from schedule 3 of the MPR. These amendments implement changes to European legislation resulting from revocation of Council Directive 77/99/EEC. The general labelling provisions of the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 (as amended) (the FLR) will continue to apply, as will the Food Safety Act 1990.
Council Directive 77/99/EEC had required that, among other things, starch or proteins added to meat products for a non-technological purpose only had to be mentioned in the name of the food. This provision had been implemented in national legislation through regulation 5 of the MPR and its equivalents in the devolved administrations.
The changes to the European legislation that necessitate the amendment Regulations came into effect on 1 January 2006. To avoid the possibility of infraction proceedings by the European Commission, it is proposed to directly implement the changes in the national legislation. Nevertheless, the consultation period has been extended so enforcement and industry have enough time to prepare for the implementation of the amending legislation. Commensurate with better regulation principles, it is proposed that the coming-into-force date coincides with the Common Commencement date of 6 April 2008. A similar approach will be taken in Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland .
The Guidance is intended for use by manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, catering establishments, enforcement officers and importers. The main objectives are:
The issue of prominent labelling of 'added ingredients' in meat products that look like 'plain' meat has been highlighted in results of various exercises at UK and EU level; all reported problems in the labelling of these products.
In addition to improving labelling in this area, the Guidance seeks to reduce the administration burdens on industry arising from consideration of the legislation. The Administration Burdens Measurement Exercise (ABME) identified regulation 5 of the MPR as one of the most burdensome pieces of FSA legislation. Equally, issuing clear guidance on the legislation was suggested by industry during that same exercise.
Care has been taken to clearly separate the guide to legal requirements from guidance on best practice (indicated in shaded boxes), the aim being to balance the information for consumers with burdens on industry.
Also covered in the Guidance are changes relating to the proposed amendment Regulations. Thus, the Guidance highlights that the labelling requirements for added starch and protein relating to the name of the food will now fall to regulation 8 of the FLR. It is recognised that industry may have some difficulty in interpreting how these ingredients should be labelled under the general labelling requirements. To mitigate this problem, the Agency would like to explore the idea of including threshold levels in the Guidance for added starch and protein, above which the Agency's advice would be to indicate their presence in the name of the food.
An extended consultation period on the Guidance, alongside the draft legislation, should allow industry and enforcement authorities to familiarise themselves with the content prior to the proposed coming into force date of the Regulations. The Guidance is UK-wide and applicable in England , Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland .
Part of this consultation process is to gather robust evidence and, with that aim, stakeholders are invited to make their own representations to the Agency. The provisional recommended options and requests for comments are set out in the accompanying Partial Regulatory Impact Assessments covering the amending Regulations and the Guidance.