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In addition to the complying with requirements of Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, FBOs must ensure that packages containing meat products intended for supply to the final consumer are clearly labelled by the manufacturer so as to inform the consumer of the need for thorough cooking prior to consumption. As and from 1st January 2010 this indication on the label will not be required in respect of meat products made from poultrymeat.

Specific legislation has been set down with regard to the labelling of beef products. This system of compulsory beef labelling based on origin has been in place since 2002.

Labelling of beef products - European Legislation

Council Regulation (EC) No. 1760/2000 (OJ L 204, p1, 11/08/2000) establishing a system for the identification and registration of bovine animals and regarding the labelling of beef and beef products and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 820/97

Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1825/2000 (OJ L 216, p8, 26/08/2000) laying down detailed rules for the application of Regulation (EC) No 1760/2000 as regards the labelling of beef and beef products

National Legislation

European Communities (Labelling of Beef and Beef Products) Regulations, 2000 (S.I. No. 435 of 2000)

Amended by

  • European Communities (Labelling of Beef and Beef Products) Regulations, 2002 (S.I. No. 485 of 2002)

S.I. 435 of 2000 and its amendment S.I. 485 of 2002 require a mandatory traceability and origin labelling for beef from slaughterhouse to point of sale to consumers. This labelling system for beef consists of two elements, a compulsory beef labelling system and a voluntary beef labelling system, with the objective of providing maximum transparency during the marketing of beef. Compulsory beef labelling requires operators or organisations to label beef with specific information at all stages of marketing up to and including the point of sale to the consumer

The requirements apply to all fresh or frozen beef, either carcasses, de-boned meat, cut meat or minced meat, which are marketed in the EU The Regulations do not apply to cooked or processed beef products. The information required under the Labelling of beef Regulations should be applied to or attached to individual pieces of meat or to their packaging material. Where beef is not wrapped, the information is required to be provided in a written and visible form to the consumer at point of sale

Operators or organisations are required to label beef with the following information:

1. the reference number or code of the animal or group of animals from which the beef was derived

2. the country of the slaughterhouse and approval number. The indication should read:- 'Slaughtered in (name of country) (approval number)'.

3. the country of the cutting hall and approval number. The indication should read:- 'Cutting in (name of country) (approval number)'.

4. Origin of the beef.

  • If the beef is derived from animals born, raised and slaughtered in the same country, the indication on the label may be given as "Origin: (name of country)" . For example, 'Origin: Ireland '
  • If the beef is derived from animals from different countries the label must indicate:
  1. Country of birth
  2. Country (or Countries) of fattening
  3. Country of slaughter

For example, 'Born in Italy' 'Reared in France' 'Slaughtered in Ireland'

Beef from Third Countries

By way of derogation, beef imported into the Community for which not all the information referred to above is available, shall be labelled with the words:

  • 'Origin: non-EC'; 'Slaughtered in (name of third country).

Labelling where information is not available

Meat derived from animals born in the Community before 1st January 1998, where there is no information regarding the place of birth and/or the place of rearing, the label should state:

  • 'Born before 1st January 1998 '

Meat derived from animals imported live into the Community where there is no information regarding the place of birth and/or the place of rearing, the label should state:

  • Live import into the EU' or 'Live import from (name of 3rd country).

Simplification of the indication or origin

Beef derived from animals that have been reared for 30 days or less in the country of birth or the country of slaughter, are not required to have this country on the label provided that the animal has been reared for a period longer than 30 days in another country (i.e., the country where the animal spent the longest period of time appears on the label).

Labelling: voluntary beef labelling system

Council Regulation (EC) No. 1760/2000 incorporates the voluntary labelling provisions of the now repealed Council Regulation (EC) No. 820/97, which permitted operators to put additional information on labels.

Operators wishing to place information on the label additional to the requirements of the compulsory labelling system must first submit an application for approval to the competent authority where the sale or production of the beef takes place. In Ireland , submissions should be made to the Department of Agriculture and Food.

For example, labels wishing to contain the following type of information , relating to the animals from which the beef was produced , must be approved:

  • Farm Assures/Quality Assured
  • identification number and sex,
  • method of fattening,
  • information on slaughtering (e.g., age at slaughter or date of slaughter)
  • method or length of maturation of beef
  • breed
  • other information not easily checked at point of sale.

The competent authority is obliged to examine the application thoroughly, particularly to ensure that the traceability system is capable of verifying the information on the label. Approval by the Department of Agriculture and Food of the information to be provided on the label will depend on the application submitted by the operator or organisation indicating:

  • the information to be included on the label;
  • the measures to be taken by the operator or organisation to ensure the accuracy of the information;
  • the control system to be applied at all stages from production through to the point of sale including checks to be carried out by an independent control body designated by the applicant for this purpose. These bodies must comply with the criteria set out in European Standard EN/45011.