It is indeed scandalous that processed convenience foods or ready meals can mislead the consumer to such an extent that a chicken sandwich, made with chicken from Thailand, can be labelled as ‘produced in the UK’. (‘Convenience food labelling misleading’ Independent 15th January).
Studies show that three quarters of consumers want to be able to see where their food comes from, and there can be nobody who actually wants to be misled by food labelling.
In the European Union, our ‘common market’ necessitates a shared labelling system for the food and drinks we consume. It clearly does not make sense to have 27 different sets of labelling requirements and common rules actually help reduce red tape and costs to food producers.
We are presently working on new legislation in the European Parliament, where I am responsible for the issue on behalf of the centre-left group of MEPs from the 27 Member States, and I hope our work will result in the provision of clear and accurate information on all the food we buy.
I have submitted amendments, backed by Which? and the NFU, to ensure that no longer can we be misled as to the origin of the food we are eating in processed products. If successful, these amendments will ensure that labelling of the country of origin of a product becomes mandatory. They will also guarantee that, for meat products, information must be provided stating where the animal was reared. This will therefore avoid misleading statements that the product is from the UK, when the reality is that the meat contained in the product could in fact be from anywhere in the world.
Glenis Willmott MEP
MEP for the East Midlands and Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party