NFU Scotland has called on the European Parliament to give all Scottish, British and EU consumers clear and concise country of origin labelling (COOL) on their food.
NFU Scotland Chief Executive,
The call was made with other UK farming unions ahead of debates on the food labelling legislation taking place in Brussels on Tuesday, 1 December.
In a briefing sent to all MEPs, the Unions insist that it is in the interests of consumers, retailers, processors and producers that labelling leaves no party in any doubt as to where in the world all their fresh and processed food originates from.
NFU Scotland Chief Executive, James Withers said:
“When a consumer is choosing what food to put in their shopping basket, they deserve clear and concise information on the label to allow them to make an informed choice. While we would hope that they would choose to buy Scottish or British as a first choice, they have the right to make their shopping choices based on the fullest of information.
“The reality is that, all too frequently, consumers will struggle to identify from the label where a product has come from. Current guidelines on food labelling are not working and require to be tightened up. Many processors and retailers play on loopholes that allow them simply to identify the place of processing as the country of origin. Saying something is processed or packed in the UK is no guarantee that it was also produced in the UK.
“COOL is already a requirement on many foods such as beef, eggs, fruit and vegetables, wine, honey, olive oil and, from next year, EU organic products. Consumers should be given consistency in labelling across all sectors. COOL must be rolled out to cover all other fresh produce as well as to the main ingredients of processed food.
“Here in Scotland, the Scottish public have shown themselves to be fantastic supporters of Scottish produce. This has led some unscrupulous parts of the food chain to abuse the Scottish name and the saltire when labelling food. We want Scottish consumers to be reassured that if they are looking to support Scottish farmers, then food truly produced in Scotland can be more easily identified than it is just now. Tackling COOL at a European level will help deliver that.”
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