I finally had a reply from the Tory incumbent MP Richard Benyon – he seems to think that quality and welfare of the animals means nothing to the Tories, as they have a policy of stamping food made in Britain as 'British'. This is one of those comedy replies it must be. We are in such a large farming community he must understand the advantage our local farmers would get by forcing the supermarkets to label the type of production method used. Can you imagine a large supermarket admitting that they raise their meat products in such a poor way? I wouldn't mind betting they would invest very quickly in lower stock densities and higher welfare standards.
Anyway, here is my reply with his email on the bottom..
"Your bill I starts 'Amend the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 to provide for information about the country of origin of food to be made available to consumers; and for connected purposes.'
This I can only assume is just about point of origin and not the welfare or quality of husbandry. If this is the case does not even start to meet the description of EDM 581, and certainly does not help to promote the often higher standards of meat and meat products available in our region and the United Kingdom.
Please look again at the issue, it is one not currently covered by Conservative policy and EDM 581 has the potential to bring great benefits to the large farming sector in our area.
West Berks Green Party
p.s. slightly odd receiving an email with no signature, not great electronic etiquette
On 23 Mar 2009, at 12:09, BENYON, Richard wrote:
Dear Mr Hollister
Thank you for your recent correspondence about Early Day Motion 581,
food labelling and the welfare of chickens. I appreciate your concerns
and thank you for bringing them to my attention.
The Conservatives care greatly about animal welfare and have long been
calling for an overhaul in food labelling procedures. It is
unacceptable that meat can be imported from abroad, processed in Britain
and then labelled as British. This practice is clearly dishonest and
misleading to consumers. We therefore want to see compulsory country of
origin labelling for meat and meat products so that consumers can be
assured that products labelled British come from animals born and bred
in Britain to our high welfare standards.
You will be pleased to hear that Conservatives have recently launched an
'Honest Food' campaign calling for clearer food labelling. As part of
the campaign, Nick Herbert MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is tabling a Parliamentary Bill
which will make it mandatory for retailers to display the country of
origin of their meat and meat products, in line with countries such as
Australia and will also require meat and meat products labelled as
British or carrying the Union flag to be born and bred in Britain.
Conservatives will be urging the Government to support it.
The campaign has drawn support from a wide range of groups and
individuals including the NFU and RSPCA as well as chefs and food
campaigners including Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall, Prue Leith, Anthony
Worrall Thomson and Clarissa Dickson Wright. I would urge you to visit
the campaign website at www.honestfoodcampaign.com to find out more,
read our policy in full, and also to sign our petition supporting the
honest labelling of food.
Given the progress Conservatives are making on this issue I will not be
signing EDM 581.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to write to me.