Michael Fabricant says "Local people would like to buy local produce – or at least buy British" and told the Agriculture Minister in the House of Commons that food labelling is inadequate and misleading.
Michael asked Jim Fitzpatrick, Minister for Food: "Has the Minister met the Consumers Association? He will know that it recently conducted a survey showing that 80 per cent. of people want to know the origin of meat and poultry and 77 per cent. that of fruit. It is incredible and surprising to me that that is not mandatory on labelling. Will he push for that in the European Council?"
Jim Fitzpatrick answered: "I am sorry that I have not met the Consumers Association, but I am aware of its survey and the one conducted by the Food Standards Agency, which came out with somewhat different conclusions. Country of origin is an important aspect for consumers, as are price and food safety. All those matters should be addressed in labelling to ensure that the consumer can make an informed choice".
Michael says: "The Minister evaded answering my question about his negotiations in Europe. I hope that the Minister will be firm with his European colleagues and not cave in. Both ‘Which?’ – the Consumers Association – and I believe there are two problems with the existing rules. Firstly, country of origin information is voluntary for most food products; and, secondly, the origin of food should be where meat or poultry is reared and vegetables and fruit grown. In some cases, the country where the food was last processed is stated as the country of origin. That is just wrong.
"I welcome initiatives like the Farmers Market in Lichfield where all the produce has to be grown or reared in the midlands."