British retailers use misleading chicken labels

British food companies are selling products that contain meat from foreign countries, but labeling them "British" or "traditional", according to research done by the British newspaper The Independent.

Supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's, Waitrose and the Co-op sell some processed meals with ingredients sourced from overseas in a way that has raised complaints with customers.

A shepherd's pie sold by Sainsbury's as part of its British Classics range with a Union Jack on the packaging, is made with lamb from New Zealand. Another British Classics meal, Lancashire hotpot, also contains New Zealand lamb, along with Marks & Spencer's "traditional favourite" shepherd's pie.

All three list the meat's country of origin somewhere on the packaging - unlike Birds Eye's chicken dinner meal from its "British Traditional" range. The product carries a picture of rolling green fields reminiscent of the English countryside, but is made in a factory in the Republic of Ireland and contains intensively produced chicken from Thailand, says the report.

Birds Eye changed the product's name from "Great British Menu" at the start of the year after complaints from members of the public. In small print on the back, the pack states the chicken comes from abroad but does not state its country of origin.

Rob Ward, founder of the Honest Food Labeling Campaign, said according to the Food Standards Agency, a food company cannot portray a product using words or images that misrepresent the food, so if they are using a scene of rolling countryside then that should imply those ingredients are from that scene.

Sainsbury's insisted its labeling was "clear and transparent".

Source: Meat International

Natalie Berkhout

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