Food and agriculture minister Jim Paice has praised Sainsbury's and Asda for the clarity of the country-of-origin labelling on certain of their meat products.

Paice used a visit on Tuesday to Melton Mowbray, home of the pork pie, to call on processors and retailers to improve the clarity and transparency of country-of-origin labelling, particularly in meat and dairy. He pointed to two products sold by Sainsbury's and Asda a steak and Cornish ale pasty and a chicken puff pastry pie as examples of existing good practice.

Defra would prefer the industry to respond voluntarily to consumer demand for better country-of-origin labelling, said Paice. However, it would press at EU level where new rules on origin labelling are being considered for the option of compulsory labelling to be kept open. This would ensure clarity for consumers, for whom origin was important, he said.