EU regulation on country-of-origin labelling across all meats could mean an "added burden" to the food industry and consumers, the British Meat Processors Association has said.

Speaking at the Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum conference in London today (7 November), Stephen Rossides, director of the British Meat Processors Association, said he is "very wary" of mandatory country-of-origin labelling.

"It strikes us as contrary to EU principles and can add to the regulatory burdens and cost savings of businesses, and can end up being passed upwards to consumers," he told attendees.

The regulations, passed last year, set out changes to the way information on nutrition, country-of-origin and ingredients are displayed on food labels. An extension to rules on how manufacturers display country-of-origin information means labels on certain foods, also now includes fresh meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry.

However, Rossides said there needs to be more research from the EU in order to "find out what consumers want".

"Just because we have country of origin labelling for beef, it doesn't mean we should have it for all meat," he said. "Times are hard for consumers and for food companies and they don't need that added burden."

Rossides, however, believes a provenance-based origin labelling scheme would be preferable.

"Country-of-origin labelling would be onerous to operate and there would almost certainly be costs attached that would have to be absorbed by the industry no doubt. When mandatory labelling is implemented, it leads to other more onerous requirements for fresh meat. There is a long way to go on this discussion on what is important and what is not so important."

Defra said country-of-origin labelling would be "subject to [European] Commission rules" and that it would provide a "reasonable" period of time for the industry to implement the changes.