Prime Minister Tony Blair has commended the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) for leading an initiative to give people more choice and information about the origin of their meat when eating out. The new campaign is to be launched at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant today.
"This initiative is all about clear consumer labelling. There is a duty not to mislead consumers. The fact is that, more often than not, customers are being served foreign meat when most think it is British. The foodservice sector has everything to gain and nothing to lose from greater openness with the customer," said Richard Lowe MLC marketing director.
The new guidelines are to be launched at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant at Claridge's today, hosting a special lunch for industry and consumer representatives. Other catering operators, pubs and independent catering outlets across the country have also pledged to give their support.
The Best Practice Guidelines for labelling the origin of meat on menus has been developed by the MLC with the support of the National Consumer Council (NCC), Local Authority Coordinating Office on Regulatory Services (LACORS) and the Food Standards Agency.
The MLC claims that the total volume of red meat currently in foodservice is 930,000 tonnes of which only 42 per cent is estimated to be British with 540,000 tonnes imported. In the retail sector however it claims that 61 per cent of red meat is estimated to originate from Britain giving it the advantage.
"The NCC is supporting these new guidelines as a practical way of getting information to consumers about the origin of meat in restaurants, pubs and canteens. It is important that these guidelines are adopted widely by the industry and that their take-up is monitored," said Deirdre Hutton, chairman of the NCC.
A group of senior representatives from Consumer Groups, Trading Standards, the Food Standards Agency and some of the foodservice sector organisations has been formed to oversee and monitor the uptake of the new guidelines.