New EU Regulations will introduce stringent packaging and traceability requirements for fresh and frozen meat products from 1 April 2015. The Regulations apply to all sheep, pig and goat meat, and poultry that is produced, supplied or sold in the EU.
Businesses operating at each stage of the supply chain must put in place procedures to allow meat to be traced to its origin. These procedures include identifying where the animal was born, reared and slaughtered, with each batch of slaughtered meat being further identified and recorded as it passes through the supply chain.
At the point where products are labelled for supply to an end user (whether a consumer or a mass caterer), information on the origin of the meat must be clearly displayed on the label. Suppliers will only be able to use the term "origin" on labels if they can demonstrate that the animal was born, reared and slaughtered in the same country. Otherwise, the label must state the country where the animal was reared and the country where it was slaughtered.
Transparency in the supply chain of consumer food products is a hot topic, so the Regulations should not come as a surprise to the industry. Businesses should consider whether they will need to make changes to their own labels and other procedures to ensure they will be compliant with the Regulations.