Carbon footprint labelling on beef and all foods could become law if a Labour Party bill is passed.

Clear carbon emissions labelling would become a requirement on all food products under the proposed National Standards Authority of Ireland (Carbon Footprint Labelling) Bill 2021.

The bill was supported by Government and progressed to Committee Stage on Wednesday.

The bill is designed to create a requirement for the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) to design and roll out criteria and metrics for carbon emissions labelling on all products sold on Irish shelves, including food.

For a packaged steak available for sale on shelves at a large retailer, it would display the carbon footprint involved in rearing the animal, as well as the emissions created in processing, packaging, transport and product sale.

Labour party TD Duncan Smith, who originally proposed the bill in March, said: “It should benefit all Irish producers and farmers.”

Smith described how it will “stop large corporations from greenwashing their products”.

“This is a way of ensuring large corporations aren’t going to get away with packaging sleight of hand.”

Consumer choice

Smith highlighted that the “byproduct” of such a labelling requirement will be that consumers “will have better choice” at a time when they are ever more environmentally conscious.

“We believe this will give a leg up to all Irish producers,” he said.

Speaking on the bill, Labour party leader Alan Kelly TD said: “Carbon labelling for our dairy products will provide a clear advantage on the international market backed up by a robust system from the NSAI.

“We know that adding value to the products made here is the best way to support farming incomes.

“Providing an incentive to provide lower carbon dairy, beef or any other food is the way forward.

“Carbon labelling is part of that solution.”