September 1, 2000 is the date the first stage of a new system for the identification and registration of beef and beef products in the European Union (EU) went into effect. As of that date, member states have to indicate on the label, down to the retail level, the country of slaughter, country of cutting/deboning, the reference code of the animal and its category. This requirement is also applicable to minced beef. Labels must read: "Slaughtered in (name of the Member State or third country) (approval number)".
The second stage, to take effect January 1, 2002, would require member states to indicate the country of birth, fattening and slaughter. This goes beyond an original Commission proposal, which foresaw that beef born, raised and slaughtered in an EU member state would just be labeled â€˜EC Beef.’ In the Council approved version of the regulation, third country products would be labeled â€˜non EC Beef’ and would also mention the country of slaughter. If beef was born, raised, and slaughtered in the same third country, it could be labeled by country of origin.
The EU admits the policy objectives are complex, with no fewer than 33 parts. The major themes, however, include:
- strengthen consumer confidence in beef;
- enable veterinary authorities appropriate controls on both EU and imported animals for the purposes of combating animal diseases;
- enable all beef offered for retail sale to be traced back to the processor, the slaughterhouse, and ultimately the farm of origin;
- avoid imposing excessive administration burdens on producers;
- give the maximum transparency in the market for beef.
The original law mandating beef labelling by the year 2000 was passed in Article 19 of EC820/97 in 1997. Regulation No 1760/2000 repeals this law and enacts the updated version described above. See in particular Section 1, Article 13 of the regulation.