Call to end 'Gobbledegook' language on food

Christmas shoppers are being fed too much "gobble-gobbledegook" by supermarkets, according to a language watchdog.

The Plain English Campaign (PEC) says too much food is dressed up with "pointless and meaningless waffle".

Campaign officials criticised food advertising after examining descriptions of supermarket chickens and eggs - plus a selection of other foods.

"The language used to describe food has become comical and the consumer pays for it," said a spokeswoman.

"Much of it is gobbledegook - the appropriate term is probably 'gobble-gobbledegook' given the season.

"We're not asking which came first, the chicken gobbledegook or the egg gobbledegook, but we'd like it to stop."

The PEC, which regularly highlights the use of gobbledegook and in April criticised police chiefs for talking 'ploddledegook', says many descriptions give shoppers no help in deciding what to buy.

"We've found 'all butter mince pies', chickens which lived in 'small mobile arks' or 'spacious barns with windows to allow ample daylight and straw bales to perch on'," said the spokeswoman "What does any of it mean and how does it help people make decisions about which food to buy for Christmas? What on earth is a 'small mobile ark' and how can a mince pie be 'all butter'?"

She added: "Food can't be just food anymore. We have to be given the impression it's 'more than just food'. It's not an egg - it's an egg laid by a hen which had 'freedom to roam in barns and a cereal-based diet'.

"We doubt that any shopper actually reads it. It's gloss dreamed up by advertising agencies who are writing to entertain each other. It's another pointless kind of packaging.

"Chicken is a description of a chicken. Mince pie is a description of a mince pie. Let's get back to keeping things simple and not waste money covering packaging with pointless and meaningless waffle."

Some examples of "gobble-gobbledegook" highlighted by the Plain English Campaign are:

:: Free Range Chicken: "Chickens that have the freedom to range the farms, pastures and hedgerows."

:: Organic Fresh British Chicken: "(Farmer Albert) cares about his chickens" and "(Farmer Tom) is particularly welfare conscious".

:: Fresh British Chicken: "Birds live in small mobile arks. Freedom to range the farm's organic pastures and hedgerows."

:: Free Range Fresh: "Access to range on the pastures and grassland."

:: Fresh British Chicken: "Slow-growing. Fed on a unique vegetarian diet."

:: "(Chickens) housed in spacious barns with windows to allow ample daylight and straw bales to perch on."

:: Fresh British Whole Duck: "Ducks have access to water in order to preen themselves."

:: British free-range chickens: "These free roaming chickens are reared in small spacious farms where they grow at a natural rate and develop rich flavour."

:: Barn Eggs: "Hens that have freedom to roam in barns and have a cereal-based diet."

:: Organic eggs: "Free-range hens fed on an organic diet."

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