The European Parliament's Environment and Consumer Protection Committee voted in favour - 33 for and 29 against - of making it a legal requirement for food producers to put the country of origin on meat, poultry, dairy products, fresh fruit and vegetables and other single-ingredient products.
Its report will now go for a "full" vote of the whole of the European Parliament in May or June (2010)
Meurig Raymond, deputy president of the NFU which has lobbied in Brussels for the change, welcomed the news.
He said: "This is a significant victory and I would like to thank UK MEP's from all parties for their invaluable support. However, much more work needs to be done before the full vote later this year. There is still a long way to go and I'm sure the change to labelling rules will be challenged strongly by others in the EU. It is clear the current guidelines aren't working so it's essential that we try and keep country of origin labelling high on the agenda
"Labelling needs to provide accurate, clear and relevant information so consumers can make an informed choice. People buying meat and dairy products want to know where the animal was reared so they know exactly what they are getting. Consumers also want consistency in labelling across all sectors and deserve not to be misled. We believe there is no reason why mandatory country of origin labeling should not be extended to the remaining sectors as well as to the main ingredients of semi-processed foods."