Aldi meat labels accused of ‘misleading’ Scots

Discount retailer Aldi has pledged to re-label its cooked meat range after Scottish farmers accused it of misleading consumers.

NFU Scotland (NFUS) wrote to the retailer after members expressed concerns about the use of the Scottish Saltire flag, thistles and the phrases “produced in Scotland” and “made in the Scottish borders” on packs of cooked beef and turkey where the meat was actually from the EU and South America.

The NFUS said that it realised that it was unlikely the retailer was in breach of labelling laws, but claimed that the use of iconic imagery was misleading consumers.

Wendy Fleming, NFUS food chain relationships manager said: “NFU Scotland is hugely disappointed to have received reports of some cooked products on Aldi’s shelves taking advantage of iconic Scottish branding to mislead consumers into believing products are of Scottish origin when in fact they originate from the EU and South America.

“Scottish consumers are likely to recognise and support the Saltire flag and the thistle emblem and be happy to read that something is ‘produced in Scotland’. Faced with such front of pack branding, they are unlikely to turn the product over.”

An Aldi spokesperson said: “While no labelling laws have been infringed, we recognise that use of the Scottish flag could suggest the products contain meat sourced and reared in Scotland. We are already undertaking to re-label the range as soon as possible.

“We felt it appropriate to include the Scottish flag at launch in 2010 as the two meats in question come through the Scottish supply chain and are processed for us in Kirkconnel.

“Our cooked meat range in Scotland also includes three premium Specially Selected products. These are all reared and processed in Scotland and come from the same site, supporting jobs in the community there.

“We never intended to mislead customers and apologise if this has caused any confusion.”

Laurent Vernet, Quality Meat Scotland’s head of marketing, said: “Consumers who want to be confident of the origin of what they are purchasing should look for the Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI or Specially Selected Pork labels.

“These labels guarantee traceability and that the meat comes from animals which have been born, reared and slaughtered in Scotland. Products displaying these labels also have robust quality assurance schemes behind them and these schemes also make welfare a priority.

“The products in question are labelled as ‘Products of Scotland’ and as such Trading Standards are responsible for monitoring them. We urge any consumers who spot misleading labelling to raise their concerns with the retailer in question.”