Letter from the editor: What's in a name?

Click to follow
The Independent Online

What’s in a name? Quite a lot, if you believe the latest EU directive. Did you know that Bird’s Eye are no longer allowed to call their ever-popular offering Fish Fingers?

Now I’m not one of those Europhobic whingers, who blames everything on Brussels, and who rails against those terrible intrusions into our quality of life such as the Human Rights Act, protection of the environment and the working time directive. No, I don’t give any credence to scare stories about bent bananas, knobbly potatoes and regulations about the length of carrots. But this does seem like a step too far.

From this morning, the convenience dish that first hit the shelves in 1955 will be renamed “Breaded Fish Strips” because the EU has brought in new guidelines on product names to help consumers to understand more fully the product they are buying, and it says that Fish Fingers “contravene the new rules on convenience food nomenclature”.

In other words, they’re not real fingers, nor are they made to look like fingers. Bird’s Eye are understandably upset about having to say farewell to the digits from the deep, but many other producers are keeping an anxious eye on developments. Bombay duck (actually a fish), Jerusalem artichokes (nothing to do Jerusalem and not an artichoke) must fall foul (or even fowl) of the new law, and where does it leave such classics as toad in the hole (no toad and, in truth, not much hole) and pigs in blankets (no sign of either)? And, come to think of it, don’t be surprised if vendors at football matches start selling “jumbo processed sausage bread snacks”? The EU says it’s only for your protection. Don’t be fooled!