Friday, March 21, 2014

"Natural", "Artisan"? - nonsense? Get involved in the discussion on use of food marketing terms in Ireland

This is something that constantly amazes me; I pick up a pack of Danish sausages in the supermarket (often distributed by big Irish brands) who neither state the country of origin or make ridiculous claims of it being a cutsey farm product rather than mass-produced factory food using the lowest acceptable standards, sold at the lowest possible prices. 

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland have announced a public consultation on the use of food marketing terms in Ireland. Words like "natural" "traditional" and "farmhouse" are used liberally on food labels but carry no meaning or no protection in the case where food is actually produced by hand in small quantities. Consumers are confused and many believe that like "organic" these terms carry a defined meaning.
As this has been an issue for many years Food and Drink Industry Ireland, (IBEC), the Artisan Forum and Consumers Association of Ireland have now developed the draft code of practice aimed at protecting the integrity of certain marketing terms on food and the interests of consumer and the small food industry.
This Code of Practice outlines the general legal requirements but in addition will provide an agreed set of rules for the food industry concerning the use of the following marketing terms to describe foods placed on the Irish market:

• Artisan/Artisanal
• Farmhouse
• Traditional
• Natural
I know that many people in both the food and consumer sector are concerned with this so now is the chance to have your say.
The consultation will run for 8 weeks and the closing date for responses is 14 May 2014. All feedback and comments will be considered in advance of the FSAI publishing a final industry Code of Practice later in the year. To let your opinion be known please check out the following link:

Pls share and let people know in the small food sector #Irishfood


  1. Very interesting article, Suzanne. This issue is something many people are interested in. Even "Irish" can be quite loose in meaning. I bought eggs proudly declaring their Irishness, only to find the date stamp was UK ! Then there is Irish Smoked Salmon, and Smoked Irish Salmon - two entirely different things. Anyway, very interesting reading. Will share.

  2. "Heritage" should be added to the list! These terms can be so misleading and broadly defined, and also hurtful to those whose products could actually be defined as such. I don't see anything wrong with something labelled "artisanal" if it was small-batch, hand-made or "farmhouse" if it was actually made on a farm. I would, however, like to see some stamp of authenticity on the product.

  3. Thanks guys yet is an issue particularly for small food producers who see "farmhouse" and "artisan" labels on supermarket breads or mass produced factory foods. This consultation is timely but I would wonder about what the process might change. The FSAI suggest that any labelling changes will be voluntary. So will large food companies take note?