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Trade Advice Document

Trading advice from several sources is available to help businesses comply with the law.

The Health and Safety Executive website has advice on:

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute provides advice on a number of topics:

Labelling of poultry and other meats

In the guide

This guidance is for England

The Country of Origin of Certain Meats (England) Regulations 2015 bring into force European Union (EU) regulations on labelling meat from swine, sheep, goats and poultry with their countries of rearing and slaughter.

Certain prescribed information is compulsory for fresh, chilled and frozen pork, lamb, mutton, goat meat and poultry meat at all stages in the supply chain, from slaughter to final retail or catering. Other information may be applied to these products, under the Pork Provenance code of practice for example.

This information must be provided on the label with the packaging. The requirement only applies to prepacked meat intended for supply to the final consumer or to mass caterers.

A robust traceability system must be in place for all stages in the supply chain.

The Regulations do not apply to meat products (see 'Composition of meat products' for details of what constitutes a 'meat product').

Compulsory information

Fresh, chilled & frozen pig, sheep, goat & poultry meat

Information that must be provided on all fresh, chilled and frozen pork, lamb, mutton, goat meat and poultry meat supplied to mass caterers or the final consumer ('member state' means member state of the EU):

  • 'reared in: [name of member state or non-EU country - where an animal has been reared in more than one country, the table below explains what should appear on the labelling]'.
  • 'slaughtered in: [name of member state or non-EU country]'
  • a reference number or batch code identifying the specific animal or group of animals from which the meat was derived

Table showing how to identify the country of rearing that must appear on the labelling:

Swine Sheep and goats Poultry
slaughtered at over six months:
the country where the last rearing period of at least four months took place
slaughtered at over six months:
the country where the last rearing period of at least six months took place
slaughtered at over one month:
the country where the last rearing period of at least one month took place
slaughtered at under six months with live weight of at least 80kg:
the country where the animal was reared since it weighed 30kg
slaughtered at under six months:
the country where the whole rearing period took place
slaughtered at under one month:
the country where the whole rearing period after the animal was placed for fattening took place
slaughtered at under six months with live weight of below 80kg:
the country where the whole rearing period took place
N/A N/A

Where the rearing period referred to in the table above is not attained in any of the member states or non-EU countries where the animal was reared, the indication referred to in the first bullet point should be replaced by 'Reared in: several member states of the EU'; or, where the meat or the animals have been imported into the EU, by 'Reared in: several non-EU countries' or 'Reared in: several EU and non-EU countries'. However, where the food business operator has evidence to prove that the rearing period was spent in specific member states and/or non-EU countries, these countries may be stated in the form of a list.

Where it can be proved that animals were born, raised and slaughtered in the same member state or non-EU country then the first and second compulsory requirements in the bulleted list above can be replaced by 'Origin: [name of member state]' or 'Origin: [name of non-EU country]'.

Where compulsory information is not available for meat imported from a non-EU country, the labelling must show at least the words 'Reared in: Non-EU' and 'Slaughtered in [name of non-EU country]'.

Prepacked cut meat with different origins

Where several pieces of meat, of the same or of different species, that would require different origin declarations are supplied to a mass caterer or the final consumer in the same pack, the origin information should be provided in the form of a list for each species. The batch code is also required.

Minced meat & trimmings

'Trimmings' are defined as small pieces of meat produced exclusively during trimming operations, when boning carcases or cutting up meat.

Minced meat and trimmings are permitted to be labelled in one of the ways below if more specific information as to their origin is not available:

  • 'origin: EU' - if the minced meat or trimmings derive exclusively from animals born, reared and slaughtered in different member states
  • 'reared and slaughtered in: EU' - if the minced meat or trimmings derive exclusively from animals reared and slaughtered in different member states
  • 'reared and slaughtered in: non-EU' - if the minced meat or trimmings derive exclusively from meat imported into the EU
  • 'reared in: non-EU' and 'Slaughtered in: EU' - if the minced meat or trimmings derive exclusively from animals imported into the EU for slaughter and slaughtered in one or different member states
  • 'reared and slaughtered in: EU and non-EU' - if the minced meat or trimmings are derived from animals reared and slaughtered in one or different member states and from meat imported into the EU; or from animals imported into the EU and slaughtered in one or different member states

EU protected food names

Products with Protected Designation of Origin or Protected Geographical Indication must show all compulsory information listed at the start of this guide. More information on protected food names is available on the GOV.UK website.

Traceability

Food business operators at each stage of production and distribution of the meat, including packaging and labelling it for the final consumer, are required to have an identification and registration system in place.

In particular, a record needs to be kept of the arrival and departure from the food business establishment of animals, carcases or cuts (as appropriate) to ensure a correlation between such arrivals and departures.

The purpose is to ensure that the information provided to the mass caterer or final consumer corresponds to that relating to the batch where the meat came from.

Additional voluntary information

Supplementary information concerning the provenance of the meat is permitted, but must comply with Chapter V of EU Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers in that it should not mislead the consumer, or be ambiguous or confusing for the consumer, and (where appropriate) it should be based on relevant scientific data.

The Pork Provenance code of practice, concerning the provision of information about the conditions under which pigs have been reared, is an example of where such additional information may be provided.

Penalties

Failure to comply may result in an improvement notice being issued, requiring compliance to be achieved. If the improvement notice is not complied with it is an offence under the Food Safety Act 1990. The maximum penalty is a fine and two years' imprisonment.

Key legislation

Last reviewed / updated: August 2017

PixelPlease note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text.

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The county council is not responsible for this information.