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UK government proposes new F&B labeling standards to protect British farming and boost transparency

#UK government proposes new F&B labeling standards to protect British farming and boost transparency

13 Mar 2024 — UK secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs Steve Barclay has proposed to enforce F&B labeling standards that would provide consumers with detailed information about the origin and methods used during production processes. The initiative seeks to ensure that products from British farmers are rightfully recognized and valued in the market.

The proposals are part of an effort to enhance the clarity and integrity of food labeling, thereby allowing shoppers to make more informed decisions based on their values.

“This government backs British farmers, who work hard to produce food to world-leading standards and maintain our nation’s food security,” says Barclay.

“British consumers want to buy their produce, but too often products made to lower standards abroad aren’t clearly labeled to tell them apart. That is why I want to make labeling 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.”

Country of origin
One of the key areas of focus is the enhancement of country of origin labeling. This includes clearer indications for products like pork, where imported meat cured in the UK might currently bear a Union flag, potentially misleading consumers about the origin of the animal.

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Proposed measures to address this include increasing the font size of the country of origin text or ensuring it is prominently displayed on the front of packaging.

Furthermore, the consultation proposes the introduction of mandatory “method of production” labels for pork, chicken and eggs.

This would involve a comprehensive five-tier system applicable to both domestic and imported products, aimed at differentiating products based on their adherence to, or exceeding of, the UK’s animal welfare standards.

“We are glad to see that progress to help the consumer understand more about how and where their food has been produced is beginning to be considered,” says Fidelity Weston, chair of the Consortium of Labeling for the Environment, Animal Welfare and Regenerative Farming.

“We in the UK have some of the highest farming standards, producing quality food products. That needs to be recognized in the marketplace. 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.”

Supporting farming sector
The announcement follows measures recently designed to support the farming sector and promote fairness within the supply chain.

A person is pushing a shopping cart.Industry noticed that better information boosts demand for higher standards.This includes the largest ever round of farming grants announced by the Prime Minister, the establishment of an annual Farm to Fork Summit to foster industry collaboration and new regulations designed to ensure fair and transparent contracts for dairy farmers.

According to the UK government, British farmers contribute to around 60% of the food consumed domestically. The agri-food and seafood sectors collectively generate over £120 billion (US$153.57 billion) for the UK economy annually and provide employment to more than 4 million individuals.

In addition to these proposals, the consultation seeks public opinion on the necessity of mandating the disclosure of meat, seafood, and dairy product origins on menus in dining establishments. This measure aims to extend the same level of transparency to dining out as is available to consumers when cooking at home.

This year, the UK is also preparing to roll out its “Not for EU” labels across commercial food and beverage products. The policy will be gradually introduced across the country through two following phases before July 2025.

Edited by Sichong Wang

This feature is provided by Packaging Insights’s sister website, Food Ingredients First.

To contact our editorial team please email us at
editorial@cnsmedia.com

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