Thursday, 27 January 2011

Food label 101"

Food labeling is a minefield. Marketing is used to bamboozle us in the form of terms and logo's. Marketing techniques are to reassure us the food we eat has arrived to us by compassionate and environmentally sound means.

Lets start with logos to avoid:

All the red tractor means is that the food has met the EU minimum legal requirements for food safety which can be pretty vague at the best of times.

The Lion mark is just a indication the eggs are safe to eat nothing to do with the conditions they were laid in.

What to look for:

Organic is a land-based farming system using no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Animals have outdoor access and other higher welfare e.g. later weaning in pigs. There are currently nine different organisations who can give organic certification.

The Soil Association Organic Standard provides the highest welfare levels in the UK e.g. smaller flock sizes for chickens and no live exporting of dairy calves.

Freedom Food is the RSPCA's labeling and assurance scheme dedicated to improving welfare standards for farm animals. The scheme covers both indoor and outdoor rearing systems and ensures that greater space and bedding material are provided.

Other stores might have their own standards which can go above other standards e.g. Waitrose and M&S whose basic level meat and poultry generally have a higher standard of welfare. Stores such as Whole Foods Market have their own labelling system with a good base level and very high welfare at best e.g. no mutilations and very extensive free-range (see their standards brochure).

Marketing is a stick that is used to cudgel you into buying food and sad to say it almost always has no bearing on how you food was prepared. Starting with terms like "Farm Fresh." "Freshly Caught." They are nothing more than a marketing ploy and mean nothing in terms of animal welfare. Be wary of the following terms they are only designed to make you salivate and have no bearing on how your food was produced.

·      Original
·      Traditional
·      Homemade
·      Traditional style
·      Real
·      Style
·      Farmhouse (pâté)
·      Handmade
·      Premium
·      Finest
·      Best
·      Quality
·      Selected

I suggest reading the ingredients and making an informed decision based on what the produce contains, not being drawn in by clever ploys designed to help shift units.

Be sure of your legal terms as far as your meat is concerned "Free Range" only describes chicken no other meat if you are sold "Free Range Beef or Pork" you are being conned restaurants often use the free range blanket. The terms are free range for chicken, outdoor reared for pork and Grass fed for Beef. All these terms should ensure the welfare standards for the animals. Be sure your meat is sourced from the EU preferably the UK and is not ‘Intervention meat’ a term used by butchers for cheap meat from South America. This intervention meat will have been almost always been kept in the most hideous factory conditions but is the cause for up to 80% of deforestation.

I hope this post helps you make informed decisions please contact me with any questions, stay hungry.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, such an informative post. So much information I was never aware of. I have never heard of Intervention meat before something I now know to look out for. I want to say thank you too for making us aware about "free range". So many restaurants and pubs where I live always use free range for all of their meat. Now I know to ask has your meat been outdoor reared or grass fed. What should you ask for lamb?