11/04/2014 09:58 BST | Updated 10/06/2014 06:59 BST

Food for Thought: Celebrating Quality Farm Prodcuts


Mad cow disease, e.coli, salmonella... The media is always quick to report food safety issues, but rarely highlights what is good about our country's farm products.

Food scandals, although terrifying, are luckily still a fairly rare occurrence, meaning we are free to enjoy the quality food on offer. From British beef to blue stilton, farmers produce many excellent products that are worth celebrating.

A new initiative intends to do exactly that, remind people of the wealth and quality of farm products available in Europe. Food in the EU is subject to the highest quality and safety standards, as well as the most demanding animal welfare requirements, something worth pointing out to consumers. Our corner of the world also boasts many unique regional products, such as Lincolnshire sausage, Lancashire hotpot, Cornish pasties and Comber Earlies.

The European Parliament and the Council have concluded a deal to promote farm produce in the EU. Funding for information campaigns in and outside the EU should come exclusively from the EU and the proposing organisation, so that member states do not have to contribute anything. Products such as beer, chocolate, bread, pastry, pasta and sweet corn would also be eligible.

The campaigns could also be used to restore consumer confidence if shoppers are being fed false information about food. For example, an outbreak of e.coli in Germany in 2011 was wrongly attributed to Spanish cucumbers, costing farmers there millions of pounds. An effective campaign could help to give consumers accurate information on what is happening and protect producers at the same time.

MEPs will vote on the agreement during the plenary session in Strasbourg on 15 April. It will still need to be formally approved by the Council before it can enter into force.

Photo copyright Spisharam (released under Creative Commons license)