Origin labelling for foodstuffs

20 February 2013    
Cristiana Muscardini (ECR)


The scandal involving unlabelled horse meat found in packs of beef once again brings into sharp focus the issue of origin labelling for all kinds of meat. A label of origin guarantees information for consumers and, because it ensures traceability, also protects against fraud and scams, which occur more often in times of crisis. In the EU, since the outbreak of mad cow disease, the origin of beef now has to be shown on a label, but not the origin of pork, rabbit meat or horse meat. Italy is ahead of the rest of Europe, as it has adopted a measure requiring the origin to be shown on labels for chicken, fresh milk and tomato purée, though not for horse or rabbit meat.

1. What reasons can the Commission give for not labelling horse meat?

2. Does it not believe that there is an urgent need to ensure the traceability of all meat, including horse and rabbit meat, given the quantities of these meats that are sold, even frozen, in the EU Member States?

3. Does it not believe that there should be origin labelling for other foodstuffs, not just to inform the consumer, but also to prevent various types of scams and fraud?

4. Does it believe that there can be a single, functioning and transparent market when there are 27 different sets of regulations on origin labelling for different foodstuffs?


E-001832/13 , P-002369/13

Joint answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

12 April 2013    

1. As laid down in Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011(1), origin labelling shall be mandatory for unprocessed sheep, goat, poultry and pig meat as from 13 December 2014. Given that these meats are widely commercialised and consumed within the Union, the co-legislators considered that their origin was of particular interest for consumers. As regards other types of unprocessed meat, the regulation requires the Commission to prepare a report, by 13 December 2014, on the need to extend the mandatory indication of origin for such foods. A similar report has to be submitted with respect to meat of all types used as an ingredient by 13 December 2013. Based on the conclusions of the said reports, the Commission may submit a proposal to modify the relevant Union provisions or may take new initiatives, where appropriate, on a sectorial basis.

2-3. As regards the issue of traceability and the issue of origin labelling as a tool to prevent fraud, we refer the Honourable Member to the reply of the Commission to Written Question P-001731/2013(2).

4. Current EU labelling rules(3) allow Member States, in the absence of Union provisions regulating the labelling of specified foodstuffs, to provide for additional particulars. If a Member State deems it necessary to adopt such provisions, it shall notify the Commission and the Member States of the measures envisaged and their justification. The assessment of such measures is carried out by the Commission. In all cases, additional labelling requirements must take into account the good functioning of the internal market in order not create disproportionate barriers to the free movement of goods. They must also be duly justified on one of the grounds listed in Directive 2000/13/EC.

(1)    Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, amending Regulations (EC) No 1924/2006 and (EC) No 1925/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Commission Directive 87/250/EEC, Council Directive 90/496/EEC, Commission Directive 1999/10/EC, Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, Commission Directives 2002/67/EC and 2008/5/EC and Commission Regulation (EC) No 608/2004, OJ L 304, 22.11.2011, p. 18. This regulation will enter into application on 13 December 2014.
(2)    http://www.europarl.europa.eu/plenary/en/parliamentary-questions.html
(3)    Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 March 2000 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs, OJ L 109, 6.5.2000, p. 29.