I am absolutely committed to promoting best practice in cruelty-free animal husbandry and to ensuring better enforcement of agreed standards. As a vegetarian of over 20 years, animal rights are close to my heart.
I am aware of the recent investigation by the Times which found that some supermarkets have labelled meat and dairy products using specific images and phrases to suggest higher animal welfare standards than the reality in many cases.
There are no requirements for most food products (including meat, milk and dairy products) to display information on method of production, although some producers provide it on a voluntary basis. EU law says that food labelling, whether compulsory or provided voluntarily, must not be misleading to consumers, including information on the method of production.
The UK Government acknowledges that it is not always clear to the consumer what standards underpin welfare terminology and that definitions on labels, such as the term “grass fed”, can vary between retailers. The Government says that when we leave the EU, there will be an opportunity to review labelling requirements for all foods, to ensure that we maintain the highest standards of quality and transparency for consumers. However, it has no plans to introduce compulsory method of production labelling once we leave the EU.
Food labelling must be clear and unambiguous so that consumers know exactly what they are buying. Improved food labelling is also vitally important to encourage consumers to buy British.