New guidelines on country of origin labelling have been published today which aim to roll out the approach taken by grocers across the entire food chain.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has developed the guidelines in association with food manufacturers, commercial caterers and the hospitality trade. It aims to provide consumers with clear, consistent origin information everywhere they could buy food.

The principles apply to meat, processed meat products, milk, fresh cream, cheese and butter. They ensure that the term “British” can only be used for meat from animals born and reared in the UK, and dairy products made from milk produced here.

Many British grocers already use this approach, according to the BRC, with the majority committed to going one step further and providing origin information on the meat in all composite products, such as soups and ready meals.

BRC food director Andrew Opie said: “It’s important that all elements of the supply chain, from food processors and restaurants, right through to the catering firms working for Government and councils, give consumers the information they need to make informed decisions. Supermarkets are making it easy for those shoppers who want to buy British to do so. Other food service providers need to up their game.”

Food and Farming Minister Jim Paice said: “I’m delighted to see the food industry come together to build on good progress already made in labelling food with the country of its origin. These principles will mean a consistency of information that will reduce confusion and ensure British consumers will be the best informed in Europe.”