Tuesday, 21 April 2009

We had Chiglet for tea!

I have occasionally grumbled before about the vagaries of food labelling laws, both here and elsewhere on the web. The other day I got caught out, myself.

We did not do a Sunday Roast this week, for various reasons, so I bought a packet of roast chicken breast from the corner shop instead. I do not wear my reading glasses for shopping, or at least I have not until now, but I think I need to start.

The meat was produced by a very famous East Anglian poultry farmer, which maybe should have put me on my guard, as he has a reputation for including some low-quality products in his range. However, it said 100% chicken breast on the front of the packet, and so I bought it.

Later, my daughters and I sat down to eat it. Their comments were not only amusing, but reveal just how impressive the product quality was. “Is this chicken or ham?” asked the 9-year-old. “Did a chicken marry a pig and make chickpigs?” enquired the 5-year-old. “You mean chiglets!” big sister responded. For my own part, I found it surprisingly briny, so I put on my specs and got the packet back out of the fridge.

“MADE FROM 100% Chicken breast” was what the front really said, only I didn't notice the 5-point type in light blue with my naked eyes. Even so, the percentage is both meaningless and misleading, if it refers to how much of an ingredient was itself, rather than how much of the product is that ingredient. I am sure their lawyers have made sure that the label is legal, though. Anyway, I turned the packet over and looked at the details on the back. These contradicted the front, but very much confirmed the eating experience. Really it was only 80% chicken, and reformed chicken (food industry euphemism for sausagemeat) at that. The rest was water, salt and miscellaneous gunk that one would not dream of putting into a home-roasted bird. So the info on the back was honest enough to satisfy the law, but the front packaging was nevertheless misleading enough to get a sale to a customer who would not have been interested, had he known what it really was.

It is no use compelling suppliers to put accurate product information on the backs of packets, if they still have licence to mislead you on the front. As I have said before, we need higher standards of food labelling enshrined in law.

No comments: