France is set to introduce a decree forcing all food establishments that fall under the catering and restaurant industry to tell customers where all their meat products come from.
Previous legislation from 2016 only obliged supermarkets and butcheries to include the origin of their beef products.
This latest draft decree, presented by France’s Minister of Agriculture Didier Guillaume and Secretary of State for Economy Agnès Pannier-Runacher, will see the regulations extend to all types of food establishments and include mandatory labelling for pork, lamb and poultry as well.
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Last February, French authorities announced that 795 kilograms (1,750 pounds) of suspect beef had been imported into the country from a scandal-hit Polish slaughterhouse where sick cows were filmed being illegally butchered.
Although the French government is referring to the decree as a way of satisfying French consumers’ “strong interest in the origin of the products they consume” and their “need for transparency and traceability”, there is reason to believe it’s also a move to appease French farmers.
Donald Trump’s current tariff war with European goods has sent shockwaves though the French farming and food industry, meaning any legislation aimed at bolstering the status and origin of French products is likely to be met with support by farmers.
French agronomists are also concerned about the import of foreign food stuffs, with current union leaders citing worries about the Ceta (EU-Canada) and Mercosur (with several South American countries) trade agreements, which France has signed but not yet ratified.
If given the green light by French food unions, the meat labelling decree will be presented to the European Commission and forwarded to France’s Council of State.
The measure will come into effect on April 1, 2020 if all parties agree.
A 2013 report by the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) found that 70 percent of Europeans support food-origin labels, up to 90 percent when it comes to meat products.