Thursday, 20 November 2008
Department of Agriculture and Food
Question 160: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if new labelling arrangements are being introduced here or in the European Union regarding poultry meat imported from Third World countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41983/08]
The Minister for Health & Children has overall responsibility for the general food labelling legislation. Under the general labelling Directive (2000/13/EC), the place of origin of the foodstuff must be given only if its absence might mislead the consumer to a material degree. The European Commission is currently undertaking a major review of all food labelling legislation.
Regarding the labelling of poultry meat, there are EU Regulations which provide for the labelling of unprocessed poultry meat at retail level. The Regulations require such poultry meat to be labelled with the information regarding class, price, condition, registered number of slaughterhouse or cutting plant and, where imported from a Third Country, an indication of country of origin.
My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Children, drafted regulations that would require the country of origin to be indicated on pigmeat, poultry and sheepmeat. This was notified to the EU Commission in December 2007 as required by legislation. The Commission was not prepared to adopt the draft regulations in their present format on the grounds that the proposed legislation is not in compliance with EU food labelling regulations. In March, the EU Commission delivered a negative opinion on the regulations but afforded Ireland an opportunity to provide further information in support of them. In the meantime, the Department provided additional details including the current misleading labelling practices and evidence of consumers' desire for country of origin labelling. The EU Commission has considered this additional information in the context of the EU Labelling Directive but considers that it does not justify the introduction of national legislation. At the relevant standing committee meeting on food law on 13th October, the EU Commission outlined its decision not to agree to Ireland's proposed regulations.
The European Commission is currently carrying out an overall review of food labelling legislation. In this context Ireland has proposed that origin labelling for meat products should be mandatory.