The British Hospitality Association has announced its support of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) country of origin labelling initiative, but believes there will administrative hindrances to its implementation.
DEFRA’s initiative urges restaurants to provide information on the origin of the main ingredients of main meals. The BHA, while in support of the initiative, feels that providing such information on menus raises a number of difficult issues, which have to be dealt with before progress can be made.
John Dyson, BHA’s food and technical affairs advisor, confirmed that the association would work with its members and DEFRA to develop a workshop to examine the barriers for caterers and how they could be practically overcome.
“Of course, we recognise that customers are keen to have more information on the country of origin of key ingredients but in the current difficult economic environment and [with] tough trading conditions a very practical solution will be needed,” Dyson said.
“Many caterers are already very pleased to state the origin of some of the products on their menus, such as meat or fish, but suppliers – and their source of supply – can suddenly change for reasons of availability, cost, quality or other factors. Restaurants with standard printed menus will have great difficulty in allowing for such changes.
“We will need to take a graduated approach, as outlined in the High Level Principles launched by DEFRA 18 months ago, so that information can be provided without additional administrative burdens.”