FSA sheds light on meat labelling

SANDWICH-MAKERS LOOKING for clear guidance on the labelling of meat ingredients on their carefully packaged produce could do worse than study the recent experiences of Lacors.

The company has been working with industry experts to produce guidance on the labelling of its fresh sandwiches, but has also sought advice from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), especially on the potentially tricky area of meat.

Lacors' Les Bailey attented a recent FSA meeting, and says there was dif?culty when it came to de?ning the labelling on both pre-packed and non prepacked sandwiches. He said that as non-prepacked sandwiches had no ingredients list, the name of the food was thrown into sharper focus. Ideally, however, Lacors wants a consensus.

The FSA states in its draft consultation to Lacors that labels need to get the appropriate information across to consumers in a proportionate, clear and concise manner. It states: "The name of the food in relation to the meat component of sandwiches should be sufficiently informative to allow consumers to understand the nature of the meat product so that they are not misled. The focus should be on those key aspects that consumers are likely to consider important in their choice."

The agency advises Lacors that consumers are likely to base their choice principally on the form that the meat is in (for example, whole meat or reformed), and whether there is signi?cant added water or added ingredients from an animal species that is different to that of the meat (for example pork proteins in chicken). It also states that some customers may want to know about other minor ingredients - such as sugar, spices and starch - and suggests that these could be included on the ingredients list or 'ask for further information', rather than in the name of the food. In addition to the legally required name of the food, sandwich makers often use a 'fancy name' which contains a certain amount of information and acts as a marketing tool.

The Agency suggested that where fancy names appear, it was best to also state the legal name of the food. "Where this is not the case, for instance if the name of the food is on the rear of the pack, the fancy name should be more informative," it states. Lacors stakeholders have the opportunity to comment before 2 June 2006.