E.coli O157 & Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome

EU Confirms Labelling Requirements

30th August 2005

Over the past two and a half years HUSH has been investigating the labelling of unpasteurised cheese sold in supermarkets across the country. We are specifically concerned about the potential health problems, particularly to the old, young and immuno-compromised, caused by E.coli O157.

HUSH was advised by Melanie Johnstone, the Minister for Public Health in 2003, that the labelling of unpasteurised cheese is included in the guidance notes to the Food Labelling Regulations, although this guidance is essentially voluntary. However, the charity was concerned that there appeared to be a discrepancy in the Food Standards Agency's understanding of the present EU requirements. Clarification has now been received from the European Commission indicating that current regulations require that raw milk products be labelled as such at the point of sale to the consumer. This would ensure that consumers were able to make an informed choice.

Commencing on 1st January 2006, a new EU regulation will replace the existing directive. It clearly states that the labelling of raw milk products will have to show the words 'made with raw milk'. As this latter directive regulates the labelling of foodstuffs to be delivered to the ultimate consumer, the requirement will clearly apply at the point of sale to the customer.

The correspondence from Mr Poudelet at the European Commission in Brussels has now been passed on to the relevant departments and we await their comments on how this will be implemented.

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