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Shona McIsaac: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that commitment. I know that he is particularly concerned about country of origin, but food labelling should provide more than that. Some people want to know that they are
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: The principle behind the Bill is that labelling should include as much information as possible. However, consumers have to be able to manage that information, so it has to be user friendly. It was proposed that country of origin, which is easy to focus on, can be identified by means of a letter. That would have to be enforceable by law. Standards of production, nutritional value, whether a product is GM-free or contains allergens which need to be identified could be dealt with by means of certification for ease of reference, as was discussed on 3 March 2000 when I presented the original Bill. The subject could be explored in detail in Committee, particularly as responsibility for the Bill has now been transferred to the Department of Health, which would be anxious for accountability to be set out along those lines. I hope that my intervention, which was somewhat longer than usual, has helped the hon. Lady.
Shona McIsaac: It is extremely helpful. As the hon. Gentleman rightly says, information has to be presented in a way that consumers understand. Returning to my example of consumers being given misleading information about so-called healthy food, we must not allow that to happen in respect of country of origin. Food labels can provide quite a lot of information that is not necessarily misleading in a type size that is so tiny that it is virtually impossible to read and therefore meaningless. It is vital that food labels provide information that is set out clearly and is easy to understand.
I now turn to an issue that was raised earlier, particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne. I get the distinct feeling that people wish to buy British products which are of a high standard; local products are something of which people want more. My hon. Friend referred to Cornish pasties and clotted cream. My parents live in Devon, where we like our Devon pasties and Devon clotted cream which are also very high quality. The local element is important.
Shona McIsaac: When I visit my parents in Plymouth, I go to Ivor Dewdney's pasty shop. The pasties are delicious, but I do not think there are any carrots in them. I do not know whether they are sold in Cornwall.
People want local food. I represent a Lincolnshire seat, and when I buy Lincolnshire pork sausages, I want to know whether the meat comes from Lincolnshire or whether it can be any pork. Perhaps the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar can tell me. Does the meat have to come from Lincolnshire or it is just the recipe that makes them Lincolnshire pork sausages? I know that the welfare standard for pigs in Lincolnshire is phenomenally high. The hon. Gentleman was at the pig breakfast the other morning and I am sure that he can help me.
Shona McIsaac: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that information. I am gratified to hear him confirm that it is the recipe that matters. However, many people believecertainly in the region that I representthat Lincolnshire pork sausages include pork from the farms in that area, but that cannot be guaranteed unless a customer visits a specialist local butcher who makes his own sausages.
There is a passion for local food. The hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Wiggin) mentioned cider. As secretary of the all-party cider group, I was pleased about that advertisement on its behalf. My passion for British food also applies to traditional British drinks.
Richard Younger-Ross: I agree with the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) that Lincolnshire sausage is a recipe. Most people know that. Any good country cook bookif the hon. Lady is a good cook, she will have one at homewill contain a recipe for Lincolnshire sausages. I have made them to such a recipe. Cumbrian sausages in local butchers will also be made to a recipe. The hon. Lady should not worry too much about confusing the origins of Lincolnshire sausages.
Mr. Dismore: My hon. Friend may be aware that I am a Yorkshireman, and I like to have Yorkshire pudding with my roast beef. Is she seriously suggesting that a Yorkshire pudding should comprise only flour, eggs and milk from Yorkshire?
Shona McIsaac: The hon. Gentleman is in danger of causing hostilities to break out with my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore). However, if he wishes to get into that argument, many traditional British foods originated in other cuisines. For example, haggis, which is quintessentially Scottish, has its origins in France, and I probably risk getting hate mail from Scots for saying that. We cannot get away from those links.
Country of origin labels need to be coupled with the promotion of British food, not just to people who live here, but to tourists as well. That would also help farmers. A few years ago the Scottish tourist board and other agencies produced an initiative called the taste of Scotland. It used the very best products and ingredients, whether from land or sea. It was promoted so that hotels, restaurants and pubs would get a Taste of Scotland award. It is now a phenomenally successful strategy which I should like to see extended to many other parts of the United Kingdom. I do not know whether the Cornwall tourist board has something similar.
I am concerned that although beef and lamb from Scotland can be labelled as Scottish beef and lamb, and sold as such, that does not mean that those animals were born in Scotland, merely that they were finished there for three months. The Bill wants to specify the country of origin, but it appears that imports could still come into this country for three or four months, after which time they would be slaughtered, and still be described as British. The Bill does not seem to cover that point.
I should like food labelling to be a little more honest about mechanically recovered and reformed meat. I do not believe that products using such meat portray British food at its best, and the fact that meat is derived from such processes should be far more prominent on food labels. If it were, people might choose products of a higher standard and better flavour, even if they were more expensive. Ham sandwiches in the Tea Room here generally contain reformed or mechanically recovered ham. People would not pay the lower prices if they understood more about how that meat was obtained. That must be made clearer.
I understand that because of EU regulations that have been in place since BSE and other issues, some of the measures that the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar proposes are already in place. Will he confirm that? I understand that from 1 September this year, all beef sold