Country of origin
All foodstuffs, with a number of exceptions, should have the country of origin clearly marked.
This includes “cut flowers and foliage”. (See Appendix) which many supermarkets currently ignore and which E-P has taken up with the supermarkets involved.
The exceptions include produce “sold or delivered by the grower to preparation and packaging stations or storage facilities, or shipped from his holding to such stations.”
Currently this is a grey area for E-P and is being investigated. Potatoes, for example, will be delivered, to “packing stations”, yet they have a stated country of origin. Nuts will also be delivered to a “packing station” yet it is common for country of origin to be omitted
E-P would encourage shoppers to, initially, complain to the supermarket when the labelling regulations covering country of origin are ignored. If no satisfaction is obtained then E-P would ask that you contact local Trading Standards.
Please copy E-P any such correspondence, it will help to keep the website current.
There are three agencies dealing with food standards within the UK
- Consumer Direct www.consumerdirect.gov.uk
- Trading Standards www.tradingstandards.gov.uk
- Food Standards Agency www.food.gov.uk
E-P has received broad advice with regard to the appropriate agency to be approached if a shopper has a complaint.
Consumer Direct give first tier advice on behalf of trading standards, usually advising how the consumer may resolve the situation themselves. For more detailed queries you will have to check the details of the relevant legislation and if there are issues of particular information not being included then trading standards would probably be the authority to enforce this
The Food Standards Agency should also be able to advise on relevant legislation and who should enforce it.
In any event, please pass information to E-P and we will also investigate. It is important that supermarkets and Trading Standards become ethically conscious of the concerns over sale of Israeli products in the UK.
Separate guidance notes for traders on origin marking rules as covered by the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 are available from Consumer and Competition Policy Directorate
Department of Trade and Industry
1 Victoria Street
Tel: 020 7215 5000
Relevant extracts from the above web site are as follows:
Legislation on origin labelling
2. A brief summary of the country of origin rules for certain specified foods is annexed to this advice for information.
3. Country of origin labelling for the purposes of consumer information should not be confused with Rules of Origin for the purposes of Customs classification. This is subject to a completely separate regime.
Trade Descriptions Act 1968
11. The Trade Descriptions Act 1968 makes it an offence for a trader to
• apply a trade description to any goods which is false or misleading to a material degree;
• supply, or offer to supply, any goods to which a trade description is applied which is false or misleading to a material degree.
12. This includes an indication, direct or indirect, by whatever means, of what goods are made of, how they were made or processed, the place of manufacture, production or processing, who made them and any other information about their history.
13. The Act is concerned with trade descriptions which are applied to the goods in question, whether in writing or by means of an illustration, symbol or other
marking on the goods themselves, on containers, labels, show cards, in advertisements, etc, or in an oral statement.
14. The Act applies throughout the chain of supply. An offence may be committed by anyone who, in the course of a trade or business, applies a false trade description to goods, or supplies (or offers to supply, or has in their possession for supply) goods which are presented in a way which could create the impression that they were made somewhere other than where they were in fact made.
RULES ON COMPULSORY ORIGIN LABELLING
15. Regulation 5(f) of the Food Labelling Regulations 1996, as read with regulation 4, requires food that is ready for delivery to the ultimate consumer or to a catering establishment to be marked or labelled with
• particulars of the place of origin or provenance of the food if failure to give
such particulars might mislead a purchaser to a material degree as to the true
origin or provenance of the food.
16. Regulation 38 of the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 requires such particulars, like all particulars given in compliance with these Regulations, to be
• easy to understand, clearly legible and indelible; and
• when the food is sold to the ultimate consumer, marked in a conspicuous
place in such a way as to be easily visible. These and other particulars required to be given by these Regulations must not in any way be hidden, obscured or interrupted by any other written or pictorial matter.
AVOIDING MISLEADING LABELLING
20. The true place of origin of a food should always be given if the label as a whole would otherwise imply that the food comes from, or has been made in, a different place or area. Consumers are, however, unlikely to expect products such as Chelsea buns, York ham, Madras curry or Frankfurters to come from those areas in the absence of other material on the label suggesting that they do.
21. Where the label carries other material that may imply origin, the actual country of origin declaration must be sufficiently prominent, precise and compelling to correct any potentially misleading impression to avoid misleading consumers.
22. The sorts of information that could lead consumers to attribute a particular place of origin to a food include
• use of country or place names in the name of the food or in its trade name, brand name or fancy name;
• written or illustrative material including maps, flags, emblems (like a shamrock), choice of colour (like the colours of a country’s national flag),
references to persons associated with a particular place (like “John Bull”,“Uncle Sam”) and famous landmarks (like the Eiffel Tower, Ben Nevis).
23. Health marks applied to food to meet the requirements of European hygiene legislation are not in themselves intended to give an indication of place of origin.
However, care must be taken to ensure that health marks do not, by reason of their size, prominence or position, contribute to a misleading impression of the origin of the food.
24. Assurance scheme logos (like the British Farm Standard “red tractor”) are used to indicate that food has been produced to specified standards; they do not in themselves guarantee the origin of the product. Where the logo may imply origin, it is important that it is accompanied by a clear and equally prominent origin declaration.
25. The name and address of the manufacturer or packer, or seller in the EC is a mandatory labelling requirement under EU rules. This information should not be provided in a way that incorrectly implies origin.
26. If the place of origin of the food is not the same as the place of origin of its primary ingredients, it may be necessary to provide information on the origin of those ingredients.
• Pork sausages made in Britain using pork from countries outside the UK should not be described as “British pork sausages” but could be described as
“made in Britain from [imported][country of origin] pork [from more than one country]”.
• Salmon smoked in Scotland but made from Norwegian salmon should not be described as “Scottish smoked salmon” but could be described as
“[imported][Norwegian] salmon smoked in Scotland”.
• Butter churned in England from milk brought in from outside the UK (eg Belgium) should not be labelled as “English” or “produced in England”, but could be labelled as “produced in England from [imported][Belgian] milk”.
27. Other useful terms are “baked in …”, “pressed in …”, “packed in …”, “sliced and packed in …” or “processed in …”.
28. Where food that is not prepacked is presented with tickets, shelf markers or promotional displays indicating origin, care should be taken to ensure the origin claims are clearly worded and that only products to which the claim applies are presented or associated with those indications.
35. Declarations referring to a single country will be most helpful to consumers, but this may not always be possible due to mixing of raw materials and flexible sourcing policies.
We recommend that, where it is not possible to refer to a single country, the information given should be as specific as possible.For example, lists of alternative supplier countries, or groups of countries recognisable to consumers (such as “the EU”) are more helpful than terms like “product of more than one country” or “origin will vary” etc. However, even phrases like “origin will vary” are more helpful than no information at all. Where they are used, however, we would encourage industry to provide additional information on web-sites or in store.
Fresh fruit and vegetables
7. Certain fresh fruit and vegetables are required by Regulation (EC) No 2200/96 to indicate their country of origin at all points in the marketing chain.
8. The products covered by these requirements are apples, apricots, avocados,cherries, grapes, kiwifruit, lemons, mandarins (and similar hybrids), melons,
oranges, peaches and nectarines, pears, plums, strawberries, walnuts in shells,cherries, grapes, kiwifruit, lemons, mandarins (and similar hybrids), melons,
brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflowers, celery, courgettes, garlic, leeks,onions, peas, spinach, salads, aubergines, chicory, cucumber, lettuce, endives and batavia, sweet peppers, tomatoes. Flowering bulbs, corms and tubers, cut flowers and foliage.
9. There are certain exemptions, including
• products displayed or offered for sale or marketed in any other manner by the grower on wholesale markets, in particular on producer markets (farmers’ markets) situated in the production area; and
• products sold or delivered by the grower to preparation and packaging stations or storage facilities, or shipped from his holding to such stations.
stations or storage facilities, or shipped from his holding to such stations.