Secret shoppers found some meat labelling ‘misleading’

Secret shoppers found some meat labelling ‘misleading’

NFU Scotland’s secret shoppers visited 40 shops, with individuals counting the packs of fresh pork products including joints, chops, steaks, bacon and sausage, looking to record the country of origin information for the products.

Shoppers found product labels often made identifying the country of origin of the pigmeat very difficult to ascertain, particularly on processed goods.

Members also reported finding imported pork and bacon on shelves branded with point-of-sale Scottish saltires.

As with Scottish red meat, Aldi and Lidl proved to be the biggest supporters of Scottish-labelled pork; Morrisons, the Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer strongly supported UK pigmeat while Asda continues to source most of its pork from non-UK sources.

Aldi is said to be the best supporter of Scottish pork for the fresh meat category, with 100% of its fresh pork Scottish.

Asda was close to the top when it came to UK sausages, however Aldi performed the poorest supporter of UK bacon.

Pigs Policy manager Penny Middleton explained: “There remains a large amount of co-mingling taking place, with anecdotal evidence of non-Scottish product placed on shelves that were showing saltires above the cabinets.

“In Asda and Tesco, product was very mixed up with pork from several different origins completely mixed within the same range and often with very similar packaging, making it easy for shoppers to inadvertently buy product from elsewhere whilst thinking they were buying Scottish or British.

“Fresh pork must all be labelled with the country of rearing and the country of slaughter but our ‘shoppers’ reported finding it difficult sometimes to identify the country of origin beyond simply being reported at ‘EU’.

“Processed pork products are not bound by the same rules regarding Country of Origin Labelling (COOL), but it is required to include COOL where other information on the label may otherwise be confusing – such as ‘Wiltshire cured ham’.

“There were plenty of products found labelled with the UK oval health mark of the meat plant that processed the product, but it was very difficult to ascertain the country of origin of the meat.

“The was frustration in our shoppers that Tesco continues to mislead consumers by selling non-British product under its brand ‘Woodside farm’, providing the impression it is ‘locally produced’ from a known farm, when it is anything but.

“Also, products being sold by ‘the Scottish butcher’, Simon Howie were also found to be confusing to our secret shoppers. The products were cured in Scotland but not made from Scottish pigmeat. Unfortunately, such labelling is above board but most definitely misleading!”

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