The UK government’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs has initiated a consultation on clearer and fairer food labelling standards, with a focus on backing British farming.  

The proposals are designed to provide domestic consumers with greater transparency regarding the origin of food and its production methods, enabling choices that reflect their values. 

The consultation, launched by UK Environment Secretary Steve Barclay, seeks to enhance country of origin labelling for certain products, ensuring that consumers are aware of where their food comes from.  

This includes potentially changing the presentation of labels such as increasing the size of the text indicating the country of origin or placing it more prominently on the packaging. 

In addition, the proposals suggest introducing ‘method of production’ labels for pork, chicken, and eggs.  

These labels would categorise products based on whether they fall below, meet, or exceed the UK’s animal welfare standards. 

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The consultation also explores the possibility of mandating the disclosure of the origin of meat, seafood, and dairy products in out-of-home settings, including menus in cafés and restaurants.  

It also seeks opinions on greater control of UK national flag usage on labels. 

The five-tier mandatory label would apply to both domestically produced and imported goods. 

Announced at the Oxford Farming Conference this January, the consultation will run for eight weeks, concluding on 7 May 2024.

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.” 

Last month, North West Leicestershire District Council in England launched a consultation to revamp its containers recycling system, potentially replacing the current use of boxes and bags with new containers.