Orkney and Shetland Liberal Democrat MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today challenged the Prime Minister to ensure that loopholes in country of origin (COO) protections for UK produce are closed. COO protections ensure that consumers have peace of mind about where food has come from, but there are concerns over gaps in the rules around processed and re-packaged meat. Mr Carmichael has promised to hold the Prime Minister to his word to improve protections for UK farmers.
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“Beef farmers in my constituency produce a high quality in which the public can have confidence because our farmers can show life-long traceability of their cattle.
“Their efforts, however, are undermined by inadequate food labelling legislation in this country which allows beef from anywhere in the world to be labelled as British Beef as long as it has been packaged in this country.
If the Prime Minister is serious about maintaining food standards, especially after any future trade deals, will he do something to close that loophole?”
Responding, the Prime Minister said:
“If what the Right Honourable Gentleman says is indeed the case, I can only say that it must be one of those things that is currently governed by the laws of the EU. We on this side of the House take advantage of the freedoms that we have won and the freedoms that the British people have decided to take back to make sure that Scottish beef farmers do have the protections that they need.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“The Prime Minister’s answer was utterly bizarre and entirely incoherent. Nevertheless, as he has committed to strengthening country of origin labelling for UK produce I shall be happy to hold him to that promise.
“I shall be writing to the Prime Minister to remind him of the exchange today and to confirm when legislation for enhanced country of origin labelling will be brought forward. This must be done before any trade deals are finalised to ensure security for our farmers and crofters.”