In the UK, food products bearing a 'protected food name' are on average sold at a significant premium to the price of otherwise comparable food. Protecting the authenticity and value of traditional foods is crucial if we are to sell the UK as a source of delicious and high-quality food, rooted in good food stories, traditional skills and history. Yet descriptions that protect both value and values are at risk from changes to our food rules consequent on the EU Withdrawal (Repeal) Bill and new international trade deals.
Early last year the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) embarked on a consultation with a view to producing guidance that would help protect the integrity of certain marketing terms used in relation to food – notably ‘artisan’, ‘farmhouse’, ‘traditional’ and ‘natural’.
Attempts to define in any legal sense the meaning of words can be fraught with difficulty, but given there is so much evidence of the abuse of words like ‘artisan’ may be it’s worth a try.
The milestone for many food producers this month is not Christmas, but 13 December – food labelling day when the food information to consumers (FIC) Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 comes into effect. It’s worth remembering what it’s all about: protecting health and providing information, that’s the stated aim of the FIC, as it appears now to be more affectionately known.
The long awaited new labelling regime seems to be the source of widespread confusion and consternation among food producers and retailers, not to mention restaurants coping with allergen labelling, or at least it is if you believe the trade press. The presence of allergens in food has dominated media coverage, an important change but let’s not overlook the rest.
New rules governing the use of the description ‘mountain product’ as an optional quality term for food products coming from mountain areas came into force last month. This is the first optional quality term to be introduced under Regulation (EU) 1151/2012 which aims to highlight products with an added value, but which are not covered under other EU quality labels. The hope is that it will give a boost to farmers in mountain areas.
The publication of the domestic regulations and guidance on the implementation of the food information to consumers Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 (the FIC Regulation) was expected much earlier this year. The general labelling requirements under the FIC Regulation will take effect on 13 December this year and food businesses are understandably anxious in the absence of certainty and clarity surrounding key aspects of the implementation of these provisions. Earlier this month, no doubt in recognition of the level of anxiety shown, Defra circulated a draft version of the guidance. The draft has not, however, been published or made available on the Defra web site and it adds some 16 pages to the guidance published in November 2012.
Sourdough is a spontaneous fermentation of flour and water in which naturally-occurring yeasts and beneficial lactic acid bacteria work in symbiosis to aerate and flavour bread, make nutrients more bio-available and improve digestibility. After a gap of at least two centuries, sourdough bread is making a comeback in Britain. But bread is notorious for not always being quite what it seems. In an echo of 19th century adulteration, some outlets are now putting the sourdough label on loaves that are far from the real thing.
Andrew Whitley, co-founder of the Real Bread Campaign, author of Bread Matters and DO Sourdough – Slow Bread for Busy Lives, argues that ‘Real Sourdough’ needs legal definition via an Honest Crust Act to protect the public from ‘pseudough’.
Does your website contain hypertext links to content available elsewhere on the web?
It has, until now, been a grey area whether including a link on a website to copyright protected content on a third party website was a breach of that copyright. This small but crucial aspect of intellectual property law has recently been the subject of judicial clarification.
Farmfoods frozen beef burgers carry both Quality Meat Scotland’s ‘Scotch Beef’ assurance mark and the EU protected geographical indication (PGI) logo. Packs of 16 beef burgers are advertised at 4 for £10. That makes a ‘BEST SCOTCH BEEF’ burger cost 15.6p! A deal too good to be true? The Elliott Review, which looked at integrity and assurance in the food chain in the wake of horsegate, had illustrated how to produce a ‘gourmet’ burger for less than 30p and encouraged searching questions.
Farmfoods burgers may, as things stand, be made from Scotch Beef, but is it decent, honest and truthful to describe them as made from the ‘BEST SCOTCH BEEF’?