By Tom Tanner, Sustainable Restaurant Association
Farm fresh, farm assured, grass fed, all natural. You’ve no doubt seen and read all these labels and rolled your eyes at what substance you can actually attribute to any of them. Next to none is about the size of it. Check out this article on the BBC website and this one in The Guardian that highlight some of the most dubious and unproven descriptors.
Food labels are our most significant source of information about the food we buy and eat. To understand how our food choices impact nature, our health, animal welfare and the wellbeing and livelihoods of farmers and everyone involved in the food supply chain, we need food labels that tells us how our food is farmed, grown, reared and processed.
Incredible as it sounds though, there is no mandatory labelling requirement to provide information on method of production for all types of food and all points of purchase based on verifiable and benchmarkable metrics. Yes, seriously.
Chefs and their customers crave clarity, about where their food is from and how it’s been produced. Mandatory labelling that spells out these key features about the provenance of our food is long overdue.
That’s why we’re lending our wholehearted support to a new campaign to put the purchasing power in the hands of the purchaser – whether that’s a chef, procurement manager or consumer. And we’re looking to anyone with an interest in food (and let’s face it, that’s everyone) to get behind this campaign so we can all use the power of our appetite wisely, safe in the knowledge that we’re buying or ordering Food that’s genuinely Made Good.
What’s the campaign?
We’re one of more than 30+ organisations and businesses that make up the Consortium for Labelling for the Environment, Animal welfare and Regenerative Farming (CLEAR), established to campaign for clear and mandatory food labelling. This will enable food produced to higher standards to stand out and to the elimination of misleading and false labelling.
What do we want?
CLEAR is sensibly planning a two phased campaign. In phase one, we’re looking for:
- Mandatory method of production on package labelling for poultry and pork for the retail sector
- Extension of country of origin labelling requirements to include all raw and processed foods for the retail sector
- A set of regulated definitions of key terms frequently used on package to reduce practices which falsely convey ethical or sustainable method of production
- Consultation with key stakeholders and a wider civic conversation to establish a roadmap for full implementation
Phase two will see an extension of the mandatory method of production labelling to all produce, meat and veg as well as all raw and processed food across all sectors and all purchase points. In phase two we’ll also be seeking a data driven national framework to support adoption of new mandatory labelling standards.
If you’re showcasing UK ingredients produced to the highest standards (genuinely ‘artisan’ products), you’ll want your suppliers to be differentiated from those not practising to the same level and your customers to be able to recognise that with ease and confidence.
By introducing legal safeguards to stop farmers from being undercut by lower standard imports and supporting high health, animal welfare, ecological and labour standards in the UK, we can collectively drive up standards across the supply chain.
Three things you can you do
- Head over to Instagram and check out both our posts on @foodmadegood, and go to @clearfoodlabeluk and share those posts
- Sign and share the petition
- Share unclear food labels you come across on Instagram using #AreYouClear.