Meat pie and pasty producers are unconcerned that they could be forced to disclose ingredients’ origins if European legislation gets the go-ahead.
The European Parliament’s environment and consumer protection committee has voted to require clear country-of-origin labelling on processed foods that use meat, poultry and fish as ingredients. This will be put to a vote at the European Parliament next month and then debated at the Council of the EU.
Currently, a sausage roll manufactured in Britain can be labelled as ’made in the UK’, even if the pig has been reared and slaughtered in another country.
The Food Standards Agency is backing the European proposal; its recent research found a low level of consumer engagement with, and understanding of, country-of-origin labelling.
Pieminister already flags up the fact its ingredients are British-grown, but MD Jon Simon said he would welcome the potential move. "We’ve got nothing to hide and it would be good for us getting companies who don’t use British produce to disclose that might give us an extra edge."
Pooles Pies chairman Norman Coan said the largest part of its meat came from the UK. "We don’t put that kind of information on our products at the moment, but we wouldn’t find it a problem. However, while some customers say they like British beef and chicken and won’t eat anything else, others aren’t bothered where it’s from, as long as the quality is right."
Pukka Pies sources meat from EC-approved suppliers and labels its meat products as sourced from ’the UK and abroad’, which senior technical manager Brigit Coignec said would not change. "It’s most important not to mislead consumers we’ve never put a British flag on our products. Our labelling complies perfectly with the new rules and our customers are happy with that."