Artisan Food Law Blog
A little while ago I wrote about the debasement of ordinary words and their exploitation for pure commercial advantage. Dominos Pizza leads the pack as it cynically pushes the ‘Dominos Artisan Pizza’ and presumably relies on no lesser authority than Lewis Carrol’s Humpty Dumpty.
This year’s harvest of organically grown grapes may be the first to end up in a bottle labelled ‘organic wine’. Up until now the only EU-wide rule was that wine made from organically grown grapes, for which there are rules for organic production, could be labelled “wine from organic grapes”. Wine is the last sector not fully covered by EU rules on organic farming under Regulation (EU) 834/2007.
Watching the Board of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) discuss the Microbiological Safety of Raw Drinking Milk (as agenda item 4.2 was titled) and the proposed review of controls at its meeting last month was really rather depressing and the outcome entirely predictable.
The debasement of ordinary words that have no legal protection has been common enough. Much has been written about the abuse of ‘real’ ‘homemade’, ‘natural’, ‘local’ and ‘artisan’ being but a few examples. Only a few days ago Marion Nestle wrote in The Atlantic posing the question ‘Is 'Natural' the Most Meaningless Word on Your Food Labels?’ Although it was perhaps Dominos Pizza that took the abuse of ‘artisan’ to its most cynically exploited heights in launching ‘Dominos Artisan Pizza’ as “artisan pizza without the artisan price” while declaring “We’re not Artisans” on the box.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is to consider reviewing the arrangements governing the sale of raw drinking milk and cream when it next meets on 20 March. A report to the FSA Board prepared by the Agency’s Director of Food Safety sets out the current position and recommends the FSA fully assess the possible options for managing food safety risks:
Last year Torfaen County Borough Council brought a prosecution against Douglas Willis Limited for a number of offences, all similar in nature, contrary to regulation 44(1)(d) of the Food Labelling Regulations 1996. This is the regulation that makes it an offence where any person “sells any food after the date shown in a ‘use by’ date relating to it”. Torfaen alleged that Willis had sold frozen pigs’ tongues after their ‘use by’ date.
On the morning of my visit to Pextenement Farm I came, by chance, upon an article in the US Farmers Weekly headed ‘Cheese producers urged to focus on breed for carbon reduction’. Not all cows, it seems, are the same. The lighter weight Jersey versus the Holstein uses significantly less land and water resulting in a 10% reduction in carbon emissions when the milk is used in cheese. The reasons are several but fat content is a big factor, Jersey milk has 4.8% fat as against the Holstein’s 3.8% which means more milk solids for cheese. I was curious how Pextenement would fare here.
A few weeks back I wrote a piece posing the question: How do we know when fish is sustainable and responsibly sourced? I looked at two then both recent reports, one from the Pew Environment Group and the other from the Marine Conservation Society, apparently at odds with each other on the question whether Marks & Spencer offer sustainable fish. In brief, the disparity boiled down to the fact that compliance with a sustainable fish standard not up to the job does not deliver sustainable fish.