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AVEC Annual Report 2012: Marketing Standards - Labelling of Poultrymeat

19 November 2012

UN-ECE Standards, food information to consumers (including country-of-origin labelling) and the proposal for eco-labels on foods are among the topics on labelling addressed in the 2012 annual report from AVEC, the Association of Poultry Processors and Poultry Trade in the EU Countries.

Reg. 543/2008 implements the marketing standards for poultry as laid down in the Reg. 1234/2007.

AVEC has studied the existing marketing standards for poultry meat and has drafted amendments to be presented to the European Commission in the second half of 2012. The suggestions regard especially the definitions, the chilling methods, the origin labelling and the requirements, registration and record keeping of different types of farming.

UN-ECE Standards

UNECE's (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) major aim is to promote pan-European economic integration. UNECE located in Geneva is one of the five regional commissions of the UN Geneva. Its mandate is to provide analysis, policy advice and assistance to governments and to develop norms, standards and conventions to increase international cooperation within and outside the UNECE region.

The areas of work are economic cooperation and integration, energy, environment, sustainable land management, gender, population, statistics, transport and trade. To facilitate international trade, global agricultural quality standards are developed. UNECE is the only regional commission with a mandate in agricultural quality standards. For poultry, international standards have been published for chicken meat (2007), duck meat (2008), turkey meat (2010) and goose meat (2011).

In April 2012, a bureau and rapporteurs' meeting was organized to discuss the existing standards and a possible extension of the scope by including further processed products following a request from the USDA. The conclusion was that it was not advisable to extend the scope of the existing standard, but to develop a separate standard for prepared and processed products.

The scope of the future standard has been defined. It will be presented to the Specialized Section on Standardization of Meat in September for assessment and a decision to present it to the Working Party on agricultural quality standards in November 2012. Once the working party has adopted this, the process of developing the standard will start. The work will focus on the definitions of the products to be included and other relevant quality aspects.

Food Information to Consumers

The final Reg. 1169/2011 on the 'provision of food information to consumers' was published in the official journal on 11 November 2011. DG AGRI has the lead on the origin labelling of article 26(b) for meat and is conducting the Impact Assessment on country of origin labelling in consultation with stakeholders. This has to be concluded with the adoption of implementing acts by 13 December 2013.

Later, DG SANCO will decide on the origin labelling of meat as an ingredient and processed products. AVEC is involved in the process and has regular contacts with the DG AGRI Section, in charge of the Impact Assessment for poultry meat.

AVEC Position on Labelling of Origin

Consumers want to be informed about the origin of the poultry meat they eat. AVEC understands consumer demands as we are all consumers. It has doubts, however, about the added value of too much information. Information must always be clear and easy to understand.

AVEC is advocating mandatory labelling indicating the place of farming by the mandatory indication of 'EU' followed by the name of the Member State, or mandatory indication 'non EU' followed by the name of the country. This should apply to unprocessed poultry meat and to poultry meat preparations and products containing 25 per cent or more poultry meat in all stages until the consumer.

In brief, until the consumer all products containing 25 per cent or more poultry meat should be mandatory labelled with the place of farming indicating 'EU' plus the name of the Member State or 'non EU' plus the name of the third country.

Other issues at stake and to which AVEC is paying attention in the upcoming Regulation are the 'use by', 'best before' and freezing date, the definitions of minced meat, meat preparations and meat products and mechanically separated meat. In the preamble of the regulation, it is suggested that a study on the opportunity to provide the consumer with information on the stunning of animals at slaughter should be considered in the context of a future EU strategy for the protection and welfare of animals.

Eco-Label Initiative for Food Products?

In early 2012, DG ENVI conducted a consultation on ,delivering more sustainable consumption and production,. AVEC is in general against an eco-label for food since it is more likely to create confusion in the minds of consumers and bring unfair competition especially if it would be allowed only for some food products, e.g. organic, fish, bread.

However, if an eco-label were to be introduced, it is important that scientifically proven and harmonised assessment criteria are developed and applied on equal terms for all products concerned by the eco-label to avoid any unjustified discrimination.

Furthermore, to avoid unfair global competition, the criteria should be recognised and applied by WTO.

AVEC is promoting more education of consumers, preferably from when they are very young, to understand the significance of the choices they make for emotional, nutritional and rational reasons. Improved information may create a better understanding and promote a better informed final purchasing choice.

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Proposals

In October 2011, the European Commission published proposals for the reform of the CAP. In 2012, the Commission has been conducting debates with the Council and Parliament to find an agreement for adoption of the reform by the end of 2013.

AVEC has studied the results of the Impact Assessment as published by DG AGRI. The assessment shows very negative and worrying effects for the EU poultry sector if the Proposal were to be implemented as it is today. AVEC concerns arising from the greening measures imposed on arable farms adversely and disproportionately affecting EU poultry producers; they have been communicated through a detailed letter submitted to Commissioner Ciolos in January and February 2012. AVEC will continue to follow closely the on-going discussions.


Regulation 1169/2011 on the food information to consumers.
The different UN-ECE standards may be accessed by:

November 2012

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