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Implementation of EU Rules on the Marketing of Meat from Bovine Animals Aged 12
Months or Less


Section A-Timing

Section B- Summary of new rules

Section C - Classification of animals at the Slaughterhouse

Section D - Labelling - Sales Descriptions

Section E - Recording Obligations for Operators

Section F- Meat imported from third countries.

Section G - Enforcement and powers of entry
Section A: Timing

Q. When do the new EU rules come into operation?

A. They come into operation in all Member States on 1 July 2008.

Q. What is the position for meat from bovines aged 12 months or less and slaughtered
before 1 July 2008?

A. Such meat is not subject to the new rules.

Section B: Summary of new rules

Q. Why have the new rules been introduced?

A. The systems used in the production of bovine animals aged 12 months or less and their
characteristics at the time of slaughter often differ from one Member State to another.
However, meat from these animals is generally marketed under the same sales description
across the Community. It was felt that this practice could disturb trade and create unfair
competition, as well as misleading consumers. Therefore, the new rules are being
introduced to help improve the functioning of the internal market and inform consumers
through a transparent system of marketing and labelling.

Q. What are the main requirements of the new rules?

A. The new rules introduce two main requirements, namely;

(a) All bovine animals aged 12 months or less entering a slaughterhouse must be
categorised by the operator as either; aged 8 months or less; or, aged over 8 months but
not more than 12 months, and;

(b) Meat, including offal, from animals in these age groups must be labelled with the age at
slaughter and the designated sales descriptors. The UK descriptors are; “Veal” for meat
from animals aged up to 8 months; and, “Beef” for meat from animals aged between 8 and
12 months.

Q. What is the definition of “meat” covered by the new rules?

A. „ Meat „ means all carcases, meat on the bone or boned, and offal, whether or not cut,
intended for human consumption, obtained from bovine animals aged 12 months or less,
presented fresh, frozen or deep-frozen, whether or not wrapped or packed.

Q. Where are these rules laid down in EU legislation?
A. The rules were originally published as Council Regulation (EC) No.700/2007 of 11 June
2007 (O.J. L161 of 22 June 2007). However, with effect from 1 July 2008, they are being
incorporated into Regulation (EC) 1234/2007 establishing a common organisation of
agricultural markets and on specific provisions for certain agricultural products. The EC
implementing legislation in respect of the new rules is contained in Council Regulation (EC)
No. 566/2008 (Annex C).

Section C: Classification of animals at the slaughterhouse

Q. What classifications are required?

A. At slaughter, all bovine animals aged 12 months or less must be classified by the
operators into one of the following 2 categories:-

   (a) Category Identification letter V: meat from bovine animals aged 8 months or less (i.e.
       bovines from the day of birth until they reach the age of 8 months);

   (b) Category Identification letter Z : meat from bovine animals aged more than 8 months
       but not more than 12 months (i.e. bovines from the day after reaching the age of 8
       months until the day they reach the age of 12 months).

Q. Where must the category identification letters be placed and by what means?

A. The category    identification letter must be placed on the outside surface of the carcase
by using labels     or a carcase stamp. The labels or stamp must be applied on the
hindquarters on     the striploin at the level of the fourth lumbar vertebra and on the
forequarters, on    the brisket between 10 and 30 centimetres from the cut edge of the

Q. Do the labels / stamp need to be a particular size?

A. The labels must not be less than 50cm2. Alterations will only be allowed in certain limited
circumstances as defined in the EU legislation. Where a stamp is used, the letter must not
be less than two centimetres in height.

Section D: Labelling - Sales Descriptions

Q. Are the new EU sales descriptions compulsory?

A. Yes, meat from bovines aged 12 months or less can only be marketed in the Member
States using the sales description(s) listed in Annex XIa of Regulation (EC) No.1234/2007.
However, operators may supplement these descriptions with other claims, but these must
first be approved under the provisions of the voluntary Beef Labelling Scheme (BLS).

Q. What are the sales descriptions for meat marketed in the UK?
A. Meat from animals slaughtered aged 8 months or less must be labelled as “veal”; meat
from animals slaughtered aged 8 months but not more than 12 months must be labelled as

Q. Do sales descriptions vary between Member States?

A. Yes, the required sales descriptions for each Member State are laid down in Annex XIa
to Regulation (EC) No.1234/2007 (previously Annex II of Council Regulation (EC)

Q. What information must be included on the label?

A. At each stage of production and marketing, in addition to the usual compulsory beef
labelling requirements, the meat must also be labelled with the following information:-

   1. the age of the animals at slaughter (the age may be replaced by the category
      identification letter except on release to the final consumer); and

   2. the relevant minimum sales description as laid down for the UK in Annex XIa
      Regulation (EC) No.1234/2007.

The indications of the age of the bovine animal at slaughter and the sales description must
be legible at each stage of production and marketing and be included on the same label at
the point of sale to the final consumer.

Q. Can additional information be included on the label?

A. Yes. The new EC Regulation provides that operators may supplement the new
compulsory information with other claims approved in accordance with the procedure
provided for in Articles 16 or 17 of Regulation (EC) No. 1760/2000 (i.e. under the provisions
of the voluntary Beef Labelling Scheme).

Q. How do producers / sellers apply for approval under the BLS?

A. Producers must apply for approval on BLS application form, BLS 2. This can be
obtained, on request, from the Department’s Quality Assurance Branch at, E-mail:, Telephone 02890 525001, Fax. 02890 524671.

Section E: Recording Obligations for Operators

Q. What records must be kept?

A. In addition to usual records required by the beef labelling rules, operators must record
the following information:
   (a) An identification number and date of birth of the animals, at slaughterhouse level

   (b) A reference number which links the animals from which the meat originates, to the
       sales description, age on slaughter and category identification letter on the meat

Section F: Imports from Third Countries

Q. Do the new rules apply to imported meat?

A. Yes. Meat derived from animals aged 12 months or less imported from third countries
must comply with the rules. It must be labelled with the appropriate sales descriptions
specified for the Member State in which it is marketed.

Q. Are imports from third countries subject to the same marketing rules?

A. Yes.

Q. What are the procedures for third country operators wishing to place meat on the
Community market?

A. Such operators must have their activities checked by a competent authority designated
by that third country or, failing that, an independent third-party body.

Section G: Enforcement and powers of entry

Q. What domestic legislation is being made to enforce the new EU provisions?

A. A new Statutory Rule, the Beef and Veal Labelling Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2008
will come into operation shortly to provide appropriate enforcement powers for the new
rules. This Rule will also incorporate existing beef labelling enforcement powers contained
in the Beef Labelling (Enforcement) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001 (S.R. 2001 No.
271) and the Beef Labelling (Enforcement) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland)
2005 (S.R. 2005 No. 450). The 2001 and 2005 Regulations will therefore be revoked.

Q. Who will enforce the new provisions in Northern Ireland?

A. Inspections at abattoirs and cutting plants etc. will be carried out by inspectors from the
Department‟s Quality Assurance Branch and at retail level by District Council
Environmental Health Officers.

Q. What are the obligations on operators?
A. At each stage of production and marketing, operators are required at all times to grant
access to their premises and to all their records to demonstrate to Commission experts, the
competent authority of the Member State and the relevant independent third-party bodies
that all the requirements have been met as laid down in EU legislation.

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