DEFRA has opened a consultation over changes to country of origin and animal welfare labelling on products, including chicken and eggs.

The proposals put forward would see a label indicating the production system of the produce for both imported and domestic goods.

See also: BPC warning over potential changes to wishbone meat definition

On pork, chicken and eggs this would be a label indicating which of five tiers of production which would differentiate between those that fall below, meet and exceed baseline UK animal welfare regulations.

The consultation also looks at how to improve country of origin labelling for certain goods, including how and where this information is displayed and what products should be included.

For example, if imported pork is cured into bacon in the UK and features a Union Jack, exploring ways to make it more obvious to consumers that the pig was reared abroad – such as increasing the size of the country of origin text, or placing it on the front of the packet.

Clear labelling

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said: “This government backs British farmers, who work hard to produce food to world-leading standards and maintain our nation’s food security.

“British consumers want to buy their produce, but too often, products made to lower standards abroad aren’t clearly labelled to tell them apart. 

“That is why I want to make labelling showing where and how food is produced fairer and easier to understand – empowering consumers to make informed choices and rewarding our British farmers for producing high-quality, high-welfare food.”

NFU Deputy President David Exwood said that “food labels must be clear, simple and contain accurate information, including country of origin, to give shoppers easy access to the information they want and for those that want to, select products produced by British farmers and growers which they know are traceable, safe and produced to high animal welfare and environmental standards”.

The consultation will run for eight weeks, closing at 23:45 on 7 May 2024.