When is ‘local food’ local?
A nationwide investigation by trading standards officers has revealed how some publicans and restaurateurs are misleading diners by incorrectly labelling food as "local".Hundreds of pubs, restaurants, hotels, cafés and shops have been investigated by trading standards officers, using powers under the Food Safety Act 1990 and the General Food Regulations 2004, to demand documents to support the claims made about the sourcing of food.Outlets which are not able to substantiate the descriptions for their dishes have been warned they face prosecution if they do not correct any misleading claims. They could face an unlimited fine and two years in prison.Trading Standards Officers found: > In one county, a quarter of all food sold as "local" could not be verified as being so > In North Wales, only half of the meat sold as "Welsh lamb" was found to be Welsh > A restaurant selling "Hampshire spring lamb", which was from New Zealand> A pub selling pork advertised with the specific name of a local farm which does not even rear pigs> A "home assured apple pie" sold by a restaurant which was actually bought from a supermarket> "Local samphire" on sale which had been imported from Israel> Sausages said to be "made with locally reared pork" were actually from animals from 90 miles away> Goosnargh duck which has never been near the Lancashire village which gives the delicacy its name> A pub selling meat described as "Dorset Sirloin Steak", which was actually traced to Somerset> A farm shop advertising wares "fresh from our own Wiltshire farm", which was actually selling boxed eggs produced in Shropshire and NorthamptonshireThe study also found that descriptions such as "organic", "hand picked", "free range" and "fresh" were also applied to some foods without justification. This study highlights the importance of traceability of your menu items if you are to make any such claims. It is likely that many of these examples were due to misinformation being supplied to the businesses and that their intentions were noble. The massive advantages to the environment and local economy of sourcing food locally are clear. It would be a shame if they were to lose faith in what the food industry are claiming.Safer Food Scores can help manage your supply chain to make it easy to prove the claims you make.Click here for more information on the survey by Trading Standards Officers