'Forgive me, Eye repent' - Victory for Honest Food Labelling Campaigner
Food giant Birds Eye has dropped the words 'Great British Menu' from its packaging in what is being seen as a victory for the Honest Food Labelling campaigners.
The misleading packaging was highlighted by food champion Rob Ward, Food Marketing expert, when he launched Honest Labelling campaign to name and shame producers who con shoppers into thinking items are British or home-made when they are not.
Following an investigation for the BBC, which started in this Summer, Rob has uncovered numerous examples of misleading labelling. 'More than 2,000 people visited the website in the first week.' explains Rob. They voted for the 'Angels' and 'Sinners' of the food packaging world.
Birds Eye's 'Great British Menu' attracting a great deal of recognition as an example of misleading Packaging.
The dish was described as 'Great British Menu - Roast Chicken Dinner.' Unfortunately, the dish used imported meat and is manufactured in Republic of Ireland.
The Bird's Eye 'Great British Menu' range has received considerable attention for its blatant misleading labelling. They have relented from public pressure and changed their packaging to try to accommodate overwhelming industry and consumer opinion.
Although Rob commended Birds Eye for removing the erroneous wording, the new packaging , he believes that these changes are still not enough. 'They have removed the words 'Great British Menu...' and replaced it with 'Traditional...'
The Food Standards Authority (FSA) make it very clear that using 'Traditional' as part of a product description, it not only must reflect that this product is true to what a original recipe, but be also must be made in a similar way that is sympathetic to how it was traditionally. 'I don't think that this product, which is made in a substantial factory in Southern Ireland, reflects any traditional manufacturing process.' Claims Rob.
FSA recommendations, for an example such as this, that 'Original recipe' be used in a product description, not 'Traditional.'
Additionally, the pack still has a picture of rolling countryside, FSA clearly defines that any picture used on the pack that could imply a quality designation, it must explain whether this image represents the true character of the product.
Further reinforcement of the 'old fashioned' image they have tried to achieve is words such as 'home-style' for their gravy. This word has no legal manning, unlike 'home-made' which is defined by FSA, so by using this word 'style' instead of 'home' an image of small scale production is still being conveyed.
The honest Food Labelling campaigner believes that Bird's Eye have made considerable progress in improving their packaging, but there is still work to do to avoid any chance of consumers being mislead.
'They are not alone, there are many examples on the Honest Labelling website, Bird's Eye are the first to make a substantial change, which is to be celebrated.'
Concerned that the wool was being pulled over consumers' eyes by inaccurate and ambiguous labelling, Rob founded the Honest Labelling Campaign in a bid to fight food forgery. The campaign offers shoppers the opportunity to shame sinners and praise 'Angels' in the food industry and hopes to use people-power to force brands to make changes.
Rob explained: 'Consumers have a right to be able to make informed choices about the food they buy and they can only do this if labelling is clear and honest, especially at this time of year when people are prepared to spend a bit more for what they believe to be authentic festive food.'
Top five worst offenders at Honest Labelling web site:
1. M&S Corned beef and pickle bap:
Festooned with a Union Flag, this sandwich proclaims to be the 'nation's favourite'. However, the beef is from Brazil.
2. Peter's Premier Pie:
The use of the St George's Cross and association with a well-known London-based beer suggests that this product is as British as they come. You could be mistaken; the supplier has been unable to confirm
which specific country the beef is reared.
3. Birds Eye - Great British Menu:
Again, misleading wording combined with a misleading picture of rural England creates the idea that you are buying British. The lamb, however, is imported, and the meal is even made outside of the UK.
4. Tesco's British Goose Fat Potatoes:
Tesco has refused to comment on whether the potatoes or the goose fat
is from the UK. Given the swathe of support for British food, you would think they would jump at the chance to explain.
5. Heinz Farmers' Market chicken and country vegetable soup:
This 'Farmers Market' rip-off is pretending to have rural connections. Complete with mocked up, market style writing. The final insult is 'country' vegetables, from where else did they think these vegetables
came from? Furthermore, which 'country' did they find these vegetables? They decline to tell us this on the packaging...
Rob Ward is available to interview:
Web site: http://www.foodmarketingnetwork.com/node/352