Ireland's food minister has called for the introduction of country-of-origin labelling for poultry and criticised the EU's labelling proposals for not going far enough.

Brendan Smith, speaking at a Bord Bia poultry and egg conference, said he was concerned about "misleading and deficient labelling".

The EU's current proposal to consolidate and upgrade food labelling legislation was inadequate, Smith said. "I would prefer to see an unequivocal provision in the new legislation requiring that the country of origin be indicated," he argued. "I see no valid reason why this information should be withheld as long as there is no interference with a free market."

The minister also described the continuing increase in cheap poultry imports as "an unrelenting challenge" to Irish producers. "Apart from our higher cost base, we will always have an economy of scale disadvantage," he added.