Greece’s rural development and food ministry has said it plans to re-introduce mandatory origin labelling for milk and dairy products sold in the country.

The measure has to be accepted by the European Commission as complying with EU laws before it can come into force. If that happens, the rule will come into force six months after Brussels’s green light. Origin labelling will have to mention the country of milking, processing and packaging.

A ministry note said its decision “satisfies the Greek consumers’ expressed demand to be informed about the origin of milk…defends the interests of Greek milk producers and animal farmers at a critical time [and] contributes to the quality assurance of Greek milk and cheese products against practices of unfair competition.”

Greece had scrapped origin labelling of dairy products when liberalising its controls after the introduction of the EU 1169/2011 regulation on food labelling. However, Athens claims the move and its 2013 extension of fresh milk shelf life has led to uncontrolled imports of cheap milk. Deputy agriculture minister Markos Bolaris told Athens radio yesterday that, by early 2016, milk prices had dropped so low milk producers “were thinking of even culling their animals”. Bolaris added: We had reached the point of destruction of the Greek milk farming industry.”

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By GlobalData