In 2010 the pork dioxin crisis hit the news. The fallout that followed was not so much about the dioxin but about when people rang up the company to see if the pork they bought should be thrown out they were told don’t worry that pork is Dutch or Danish etc.
Consumers realised that Irish recipe or traditional or farmhouse were nothing but misleading labels.
An Oireachtas committee report following that crisis of which now Labour Minister of State Sean Sherlock was a member, called for the EU Commission to introduce country of origin labelling for processed meats.
Move on two years and the horsemeat scandal broke. This scandal revealed the murky food chains in processed meat products across the EU. Last month I and six other MEPs produced a report echoing the calls of the Oireachtas report in 2010. The EU Commission can no longer sit on its hands and refuse to introduce mandatory country of labelling for processed meats.
Consistent polls show that up to 94% of consumers want to know where their meat comes from.
In the week before the vote I and all the Irish MEPs received two emails. One from IBEC calling on us to reject the report citing high costs for business, costs that have been debunked by a number of research bodies.
The second email was from the Irish department of Foreign Affairs in Brussels urging us to give the report very serious consideration before voting, citing guess what? High costs for business.
Fine Gael once again exposed themselves for putting big business ahead of the interests of farmers, consumers and small local producers. 36,000 farmers in Ireland and 122 food producers sign up to a voluntary scheme because it’s good for business.
The only people who have anything to fear about this form of labelling are those who want to undercut Irish farmers and producers and those who want to continue to exploit the complicated food chain as happened with the horsemeat. Consumers have the right to know not only where their steak comes from but also where their burger, rasher and sausage come from.