In his first major outing as shadow secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, Nick Herbert will today today go to the National Farmers' Union conference and launch the Tories' "Honest Food" campaign.
He asserts that current rules allowing meat imported from abroad - and merely processed in the UK - to be labelled as British are misleading in the extreme and do not allow consumers to make fair choices over their purchase of food products.
The "Honest Food" campaign aims to get compulsory "country of origin" labelling introduced, so that consumers would know that meat products labelled "British" could only have come from animals born and bred in this country.
Mr Herbert - who will table a Bill in Parliament to this effect - summarises the purposes of the proposal as:
- Allowing consumers to make informed choices about the food they buy
- Preventing non-British meat being labelled as British
- Supporting British producers by allowing consumers to identify genuine British meat
- Promoting superior British produce by highlighting the advantages of British produce
- Restoring trust and confidence in British food and labelling in general
The NFU itself is backing the campaign, as are a variety of other organisations and a number of celebrity chefs, including Antony Worrall Thompson and Prue Leith. A full list of supporters is listed on the campaign website.
I have posted the associated campaign ad on PlayPolitical.com.
The campaign seems utterly reasonable and it is hard to see how any right-thinking person could disagree with it. I note that Mr Herbert - a very committed free marketeer - is not taking a jingoistic or protectionist attitude to the issue, nor does he appear to be prescribing that British people should buy British meat. Rather, consumers need to be given all the correct information and facts so as to be able to make informed choices about the products they buy.