Two reports from the European Commission conclude that the benefits from new mandatory country of origin labelling requirements on food do not clearly outweigh the costs.
The reports say that voluntary labelling rules seem to be the most suitable solution.
The first report looks at the feasibility of different options for mandatory origin labelling for dairy products and for minor meats, notably horse meat, rabbit meat and meat from game and birds (farmed and wild).
Labelling rules are already in place for beef meat, pig meat, poultry meat, sheep meat and goat meat.
The report says that considering consumer attitudes towards additional information and potential extra costs, as well as any technical and administrative requirements arising for businesses and public authorities, for dairy products there would be an uneven impact on producers, making it more burdensome for some than for others.
It says it also seems that consumers are not willing to pay more for the additional information.
The report suggests that the existing options for voluntary labelling could address some consumer demands while retaining flexibility for Member States and food operators.
For the "minor meats", the report similarly concludes that compulsory origin labelling would imply operational costs which would not outweigh the benefits.
The second report explores the need for consumers to be informed on the origin of unprocessed foods, single ingredient products and ingredients that represent more than 50 per cent of a food.
It concludes that consumers are interested in origin labelling for all these food categories, but less so for food categories such as meat, meat products and dairy products.
The report also looks at the costs and benefits of labelling rules, including the impact on the internal market and on international trade, and concludes that voluntary origin labelling, combined with existing mandatory origin labelling regimes for specific foods or categories of food, is the most suitable way forward.
The reports will be transmitted to the European Parliament and the Council.