From July 2008, new rules will come into force across Europe governing when the word “veal” can be used to advertise and sell “meat of bovine animals aged 12 months or less.” Tim Coles serves up the best cuts of EU Regulation No. 700/2007.
Who: Council of the European Union
When: June 2007
Law stated as at: 22 August 2007
EU agriculture ministers recently adopted new rules laying down the conditions for the marketing in the Community of meat from cattle aged 12 months or less, dealing in particular with the sales descriptions to be applied to the meat. An existing EC Regulation on the common organisation of the market in beef and veal obliges the Council (of the EU) to adopt general measures to promote better organisation of production, processing and marketing of beef. In furtherance of this objective, on 11 June 2007 the Council passed "Regulation No. 700/2007 on the marketing of the meat of bovine animals aged 12 months or less" (the Regulation).
The current systems of production of cattle aged 12 months or less and their characteristics at the time of slaughter often differ from one Member State to another, but the meat from differing Member States is generally marketed under one single sales description. As a result, concern has been voiced from both the industry and Member States that trade has been disturbed and unfair competition encouraged, both of which affect the functioning of the internal market. Moreover there are concerns that existing practises lead to customer confusion and are likely to mislead.
Age of animal key to buying decision
According to a public consultation organised by the Commission in 2005, for a majority of consumers the age of animals and what they have been fed on are important criteria in determining the characteristics of their meat. However, given the difficulty of monitoring the types of feed used, it was decided that the use of different sales descriptions depending on the age of the animal at the time of slaughter, would be sufficient to provide the necessary transparency and increased consumer clarity. The Regulations would seem to have been designed with a degree of cultural sensitivity and the new rules are specifically said to take account of national customs and cultural traditions to help consumers make a choice in line with their expectations.
The Regulation (Article 4) provides that specific sales descriptions are to be used in each Member State for the marketing of meat that comes from animals that are (a) 0-8 months, or (b) 8-12 months old at the time of slaughter. For meat that comes from animals slaughtered between 0-8 months, the sales description should be "veal", while meat from animals in the 8-12 month old category should be described as "beef" in the UK, and "rosé veal" in Ireland.
No "veal" over 12 months old
The Regulation prohibits the use of the sales description "veal" (or any new name deriving from the sales descriptions listed in the rules) in relation to meat that comes from animals aged more than 12 months. Sales descriptions may however be supplemented by other voluntary information in line with the existing system for the identification and registration of cattle and the labelling of beef and beef products (Regulation 1760/2000).
The Regulations (Article 3) further require that, on slaughter, all animals be classified into one of the above categories by the operators of the slaughterhouse and both the "sales description" and the age of the animal on slaughter must be indicated on the label attached to the meat (Article 5).
To prevent the distortion of competition, meat imported into the Community from third countries will also be subject to the provisions of the Regulation. Accordingly operators in a third country will be required to subject their activities to checks by a competent authority to ensure that the requirements of the Regulation are met.
Why this matters:
1 July 2008 is the important date for the diary, following which the requirements set out in the Regulation must be met. By this date a national competent authority will have been charged with enforcing the Regulations and the penalties for infringements decided. In the meantime food producers and marketers will need to keep on the look-out for similar regulations.
Osborne Clarke London