Consumer concern over meat labelling reviewSurvey shows worry over plan to simplify labels

01 March 2007

Four out of five people would be concerned if ingredients added to meat products were less prominently labelled, new Which? research reveals.

But this valuable information could be under threat from a Food Standards Agency (FSA) review of administrative costs for manufacturers.

Currently, labels on meat products that look like cuts, slices and joints of meat must clearly state what ingredients have been added to bulk it up.

The FSA, however, is now looking at simplifying meat labelling, despite Which? previously calling for the requirements to be strengthened.

Labelling information

Which? chief policy adviser Sue Davies said: ‘This labelling information helps people make informed choices between products. If it's removed, it'll be harder to see from the packet whether you're buying ham that's been bulked up with water, starch or protein.’

Our research indicates most people would be against any change to this regulation and in fact would like to see it go even further. Our findings revealed:

  • nine in ten (92 per cent) think that meat products should show added ingredients on the front of the pack
  • nine in ten (92 per cent) think the percentage of water added to meat products should be shown on the front of the pack
  • four in five (80 per cent) are concerned that a wide range of ingredients besides meat are used in meat products
  • four in five people (81 per cent) wouldn't expect any extra ingredients to be used in plain raw meat products (e.g. pork chops, chicken breasts).

Sue Davies added: ‘We think it’s outrageous that the FSA is considering doing this and that the motivation for the review is to reduce the burden on industry, rather than to improve consumer information.

‘Which? has been concerned that existing labelling information doesn't go far enough, so to us it seems ridiculous to think of reducing it.’