Food Labelling

With the aftermath of the horsemeat scandal still clear in our minds and questions of how food companies have been able to mislead customers, there has been increased focus on the traceability of meat and the regulation of what can often be complex international processes.

Impending EU regulatory changes mean that all food retailers and manufacturers will need to change a number of aspects of their meat labelling.

The current position

Under the current EU Directive, pre-packed meat (other than beef) is required to display only scant information relating to its origin. The European Commission are currently discussing more extensive requirements which will come into force in December 2014.

Changes ahead…

In December 2014 new EU legislation will come into force to regulate pre-packed meat.  This could include such detail as the place of birth, rearing and slaughter of the meat. The proposal for the new legislation is still under discussion by the European Commission and EU Member States.

Implications for the sector

A recent report assessed three options under consideration by the EU which could be imposed under the new Regulations. This suggested that collectively EU consumers could be paying an additional €1 billion per year as a result of the new labelling rules as the cost of compliance pushes up the cost of products. It is expected that medium-sized companies will face the greatest burden. It is anticipated that many larger businesses will have the capacity to deal with additional requirements, whilst for smaller companies that source meat locally, labelling should be a more simple and manageable process.  It is predicted that it will be medium-sized businesses that are likely to struggle most. Such businesses will want to keep abreast of ongoing developments, so as to ensure that they are well prepared for the changes in 2014.

For more information, please contact David Thompson, Head of Food and Drink, Michelmores LLP on 01392 687656 or at david.thompson@michelmores.com.