Scots call to end misleading meat labelling

A Scottish consumer group has called for the Scottish government to step in and put an end to misleading meat labelling.

According to research from Consumer Focus Scotland, a variety of labels and pictures are being used on packs of meat to signify that the produce is Scottish. Unlike the legally protected 'Scotch' label, there is no regulation to guarantee the origin and quality of these 'Scottish' products.

Consumers are left to make their own mind up and a YouGov survey, commissioned by Consumer Focus Scotland, revealed that nine out of 10 do not understand the difference between 'Scotch' and 'Scottish'.

Consumer Focus Scotland director Martyn Evans said the Scottish Government should step in and look at new guidance to help consumers.

"While nobody is setting out to mislead their customers intentionally, the use of many different pictures and labels associated with Scotland means that many red meat products, which do not offer guarantees about their quality and origin, are being mistaken for those that do," he said.

"The terms 'Scotch beef' or 'Scotch lamb' have legal status. It means that the meat has been born, reared and slaughtered in Scotland and has met published and quality assured standards in its production, including how the animals are reared. The term 'Scottish' offers no such quality guarantees and can include former dairy cows and breeding livestock."

The group suggested that the Scottish government should produce guidance on the use of Scottish country-of-origin labelling, accompanied by a clear communication campaign to inform customers about the differences between 'Scotch' and 'Scottish'.

The Consumer Focus Scotland report 'Use of Scottish origin labelling on fresh and frozen meat' examined items being sold as of Scottish origin labelling by checking labelling and traceability systems, reviewing the definitions of 'Scottish' currently in use and inspecting more than 40 different outlets across Scotland.

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