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Government launches major consultation on proposed reforms to food labelling

The Environment Secretary has launched new proposals to give shoppers more information about how and where their food is produced.

A major consultation has been launched on proposed reforms to food labelling, ensuring consumers know exactly what’s in their shopping baskets, that will reward high-quality, high-welfare food to ensure British farmers’ products get the recognition they deserve.

The proposals for fairer food labelling will ensure greater transparency around the origin of food and methods of production, helping consumers make decisions that align with their values.

The consultation looks at how to improve country of origin labelling for certain goods, including how and where this information is displayed and what products should be included. For example, if imported pork is cured into bacon in the UK and features a Union Jack, exploring ways to make it more obvious to consumers that the pig was reared abroad, such as increasing the size of the country of origin text, or placing it on the front of the packet.

It also sets out proposals to require ‘method of production’ labelling on pork, chicken and eggs. These include a mandatory five-tier label for both domestic and imported products which would differentiate between those that fall below, meet and exceed baseline UK animal welfare regulations, which are some of the highest in the world.

The consultation was announced by the Environment Secretary Steve Barclay, at the Oxford Farming Conference and builds on commitments in the UK Government’s Food Strategy.

Barclay commented: “This government backs British farmers, who work hard to produce food to world-leading standards and maintain our nation’s food security. British consumers want to buy their produce, but too often products made to lower standards abroad aren’t clearly labelled to tell them apart. That is why I want to make labelling showing where and how food is produced fairer and easier to understand – empowering consumers to make informed choices and rewarding our British farmers for producing high-quality, high-welfare food.”

Fidelity Weston, Chair of the Consortium of Labelling for the Environment, Animal Welfare and Regenerative Farming (CLEAR), added: “We in the UK have some of the highest farming standards, producing quality food products. That needs to be recognised in the marketplace. To achieve this, we need a clear definition of the many terms used to describe the method of production, and transparency and honest data about how the food was produced on the farm, and right through to the end product.

“Through this, we have an opportunity to support the transition put in place by the Government to move the UK to more agroecological farming methods with improved outcomes for nature, the environment and people, alongside food production.”

The consultation also seeks views on whether it should be mandatory requirement to state the origin of meat, seafood and dairy products outside of the home, for example on menus in cafes and restaurants, to give consumers access to the same information while dining out as when cooking at home.

The consultation will run for until May 7.


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