- Defra demands action from caterers on labelling but cant provide data on current situation
A press release on the DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) website reads: While some food products bought in store are beginning to offer this information, many caterers have not yet taken on the challenge.
The release lists the contributions made by retailers, with detailed analysis of labels on more than 500 meat and dairy products bought from the major supermarkets and independent shops.
However, when asked what information it had on the scale of origin labelling in the foodservice industry to back up the Ministers attack on the sector, DEFRA could not provide an answer.
The information is based on the work our policy officials have been doing with industry to promote the use of country of origin labelling, a press officer said in a statement.
The news comes on the back of a tough period for Paice, who is at the centre of the milk pricing storm. On Radio 4s Today programme he was tripped up when he admitted to not knowing the price of a pint of milk. In December he had a similarly embarrassing confrontation on the same show when his Department was found to have failed to meet the Government buying standards it developed.
The challenges facing those in foodservice around country of origin labelling are often far greater than those faced by retail.
John Dyson, food and technical affairs adviser at the British Hospitality Association (BHA), said while he supports a push for more country of origin labelling, some caution was necessary.
Many caterers are already very pleased to state the origin of some of the products on their menus, such as meat or fish, but suppliers and their source of supply can change suddenly for reasons of availability, cost, quality or other factors. Restaurants with standard printed menus will have great difficulty in allowing for such sudden changes.
We will also need to take a graduated approach as outlined in the High Level Principles launched by DEFRA 18 months ago, so that information can be provided without additional administrative burdens, he added.
The BHA would be organising a workshop for members in the autumn to discuss implementing DEFRAs initiative.