Saturday, 10 February 2007

How Hungary are you for Turkey?

The latest news that bird flu may have arrived on "partly processed carcasses from Hungary" must raise into the spotlight the outrage of British food labelling that I touched on this week.

If a food item says "British" it doesn't mean it is British.

Meat that is imported from overseas and only finishes its processing in the UK can be labelled as "British" in our supermarkets. This is only illegal if the label can be proved to be put there with the "intention of misleading the public" - a qualification that is incredibly difficult to prove.

This sort of labelling law does not give consumers the information they deserve. It also fails to support British producers. David Cameron raised this issue in a speech only last month and I hope that a change in food labelling will be part of the next Conservative manifesto.

As a child we kept Turkeys - I may be the only Conservative party candidate who has actually done so. They don't make good pets - but I do like roast turkey and I do want to support local producers.

If food carries a "little red tractor" label, then at least the consumer knows the food meets certain standards. I would like this to be the minimum standard for my children's school dinners.

I for one will be looking out for the red tractor on the food I buy, or better still buying from my local butcher.


Anonymous said...

Great thoughts - but food labelling is handled by the EU, and we have very limited control over it.

Luckily, a huge fuss was kicked up over GM foods, and they do have to be labelled. But the industry pushed the EU very hard not to have to do this, as they did with the Food & Drug Administration in the USA.

Mike Wood said...

I don't think that the EU would be too much of a problem.

In the European Parliament's canteen in Strasbourg, all of the meat dishes have a notice next to them saying where the animal was bred, raised and slaughtered.

If the European Parliament can do this, presumably a lablling system in the UK that had those details should also be permitted.

Vicky Ford said...

Quite - the problem lies again in the fact that our government is not prepared to stand up for British interests in Europe.

If even the EU canteen supports stronger labelling then why wont the Government demand that EU law allows for us to have it enforced in the supermarkets here.

As a Conservative I believe in market forces - but how can consumers force changes on the market if they are not given full information.