The regulations on the labelling of beef are intended to contribute to a complete proof of origin for cattle from the stable to the shop counter and thus ensure more transparency and safety. Since 01.09.2000, various indications have been obligatory throughout the EU.
Operators and organisations marketing beef in the European Community must provide mandatory information and may also provide additional voluntary information. This ensures that a link can be made between the individual animal or group of animals and the carcasses or cuts of meat.
The beef label must contain the following compulsory information:
- Reference number/reference code ensuring the link between the meat and the animal.
- the approval number of the slaughterhouse and the Member State or third country in which the slaughterhouse is located
- the approval number of the cutting plant and the Member State or third country in which the cutting plant is situated
- all Member States or third countries where the animal was born, fattened and slaughtered. Where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered in the same Member State or third country, the indication "Origin: (name of Member State or third country)" may be given.
- the Member State or third country where the cutting took place.
Special or more detailed rules exist for the labelling of minced beef and meat trimmings and for veal and young beef.
In addition, further voluntary information is possible, e.g. on category (young bull, heifer, steer ...), feeding or husbandry conditions, breed, quality characteristics.
The label must be attached to the meat or to the packaging. In the case of non-pre-packaged products, appropriate information must be given in writing and clearly visible to the consumer at the point of sale.
The Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE) is responsible for checking the compulsory information. The district administrative authorities are furthermore responsible for the control of the voluntary indications with regard to the general regulations of food labelling (in particular protection against deception).