LONDON – Food and Farming Minister Jim Paice is appealing to the foodservice industry in the United Kingdom to inform diners of which countries their food is sourced.
The UK food industry introduced voluntary country of origin labeling standards more than a year ago, but the foodservice industry has taken little action on initiative and some food manufacturers are providing less information, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
In 2011 Defra analyzed labels on more than 500 meat and dairy products bought from major retailers and a number of independent shops. The 2012 survey shows that the number products with country of origin labels:
• declined 76 percent from 77 percent on cheese;
• declined to 72 percent from 73 percent on meat products such as bacon, ham, sausages and burgers;
• increased to 77 percent from 73 percent on meat products such as pies and ready meals; and
• stayed the same on milk and butter, at 54 percent and 100 percent, respectively.
“More than ever, people want to know where their food comes from, so it’s disappointing to see little improvement in the number of food products showing this information,” Paice said.
“Origin labeling helps people make informed choices and gives assurances on quality, production methods, and environmental impact. Whether it’s on a label, menu, or given verbally, I want to see all of industry making every effort to provide this information that the consumer has made it clear they want,” he added.
DEFRA is planning a workshop in the fall to address the issue.