ByBridgeNews EU farm ministers agreed late to order mandatory origin labeling for beef in an effort to ensure traceability through a consistent EU-wide labeling system, EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler and French Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany told reporters. Initial labeling requirements are to take effect Sept. 1. The system includes requirements of a reference number for the traceability of beef to a specific animal, the country of slaughter, the approval number of the slaughterhouse, the country of cutting, and the approval number of the cutting plant. The rule will affect all beef sold in the EU, and will apply equally to cattle born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the EU as well as outside the EU. A spokesman for the agriculture ministry in the UK, where the epidemic of mad cow disease in the mid-1990s raised the issue of food safety for beef to the EU level, said the British government is pleased with the decision, which he called a compromise in the right direction.