In an open letter to Brussels, British processor Dairy Crest, the British Cheese Board, processor representative Dairy UK, and the National Farmers Union (NFU) claimed that implementing this legislation will ensure that dairy products labelled as British are actually made using milk from farms in the country.
This would provide hard-up British dairy farmers with much needed support “following a difficult couple of years," the letter said.
It would also “encourage, inform and help” British consumers. According to the petitioners, 86% of the UK public want access to more products that can be traced back to domestic farmers.
Misleading consumers, unfair to farmers
“Only dairy products made in this country from milk produced by Britain’s dairy farmers should be labelled as British,” said the open letter.
“We need products which are labelled as British to come from British dairy farms. At the moment, this is not the case, with some imported dairy products, in particular cheese, given UK marks. This is misleading consumer and is unfair to hard working dairy farmers.”
The letter comes just days after the EC launched a call for tenders for a study on the impact of proposed legislation that would make origin labelling on milk and milk used as an ingredient in dairy products a legal requirement.
“The legislation we are seeking change is European," said the letter.
"We welcome the recent progress and support made by the UK government on this, but there is more to do. We are therefore asking the European Commission to introduce mandatory labelling for dairy products that will clearly inform consumers of the country of origin of the milk and the place of manufacture of the product."
“Our aim is simple; only dairy products made in this country from milk produced by Britain’s dairy farmers should be labelled as British," it added.
Economic impact of origin labelling?
European Union (EU) legislation enforcing mandatory origin labelling currently exists for a number of agricultural products, including beef, honey, eggs, imported poultry meat, fruit and vegetables, olive oil, wine and hops.
The recently introduced EC study will collect data on consumer behaviour, examine the potential economic impact of mandatory origin labelling for milk and milk used as an ingredient in dairy products, and the additional administrative burden that would be placed on milk producers, collectors, processors, traders, retailers and regulatory authorities in EU Member States.