Kirsten pinged my blog with a comment on my post of yesterday and since I think it is a valid comment, I have linked to it here:
Please go and read it before you get any further, or you won’t know what I’m blithering on about.
Ok? Been and gone and had a read. Great, so I will continue with –
I do agree with her up to a point – but we should all be aware that a commercially produced packet beefburger rarely has 100% beef, even if that’s implied on the outside. There are always preservatives and so on which form some part of the product. And we are daft if we think that the price doesn’t reflect what’s inside. Price will always reflect what’s on the inside.
So will brand. Those brands which are less well known have less to lose when their products are found to be yucky than those with a reputation to keep up.
And packaging and labelling in this country is a disgrace. You need a degree in evasion and lying to get around it.
‘Produced in the UK’ can pretty much mean anything, even that it was just packed here. If you look up the trading standards definitions of what is allowed not only in the products, but what is allowed in the labelling, you will probably get a shock.
Kirsten cites her coeliac disease as a worry and I totally agree with her that it is – because we cannot rely on what we are told. I sympathise with her. I am not coeliac, but currently have a severe problem with wheat which is giving me similar symptoms and I am following the same regime. I don’t eat dairy either, so am always scouring the packet descriptions, but unless I buy fresh ingredients and cook it myself, I don’t think I can totally rely on anything on the label.
We do have bad labelling, we do have manufacturers who put profit above all else and our regulations pretty much allow them to do just that.
In the end, we get the food we pay for and the rules and regulations that the people we vote for put in place. And vested interest plays a huge role here.
That vested interest, bad labelling and willingness for some manufacturers to put profit above all else are the price we pay for cheap food. And let’s be realistic: that food was really, really cheap. We are told often that there is no such thing as a free lunch: maybe there is no such thing as cheap food without strings.
You might like to take a look at the bbc News Magazine http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21059425 where Rose Prince, a food journalist and author, says British people prefer not to think about it:
“Supermarkets are battling with each other to be the cheapest, and demanding better and better deals from their suppliers.
“One shouldn’t imagine that supermarkets are knowledgeable about exactly what is found in every product, but this does risk compromising their credibility.”
We have a right to expect traceability and good labelling helps with that, but this government moved responsibility for these back to DEFRA – which we know is over-stretched and under-funded. Tests were done in Ireland, not here, because we no longer test in the same way, a fact that manufacturers surely know and surely take advantage of.