Morrisons drop ‘non-EU salt and pepper’ label on British chicken after boycott threats

Supermarket chain vows to change packaging ‘immediately’ following boycott threats

Chiara Giordano,Jon Stone
Tuesday 02 November 2021 21:37
<p>Morrisons has apologised after advertising ‘non- EU salt and pepper’ on its British chicken</p>

Morrisons has apologised after advertising ‘non- EU salt and pepper’ on its British chicken

Morrisons said it will change the packaging on a “British” chicken product after advertising that it was made with “non-EU salt and pepper”.

The supermarket chain faced a backlash on social media as customers posted photos of the £4 Salt & Pepper Chicken Crown, described on packaging as “made from British chicken and non-EU salt and pepper”.

Some customers threatened to boycott the chain’s stores, with one claiming it was a “slight on the EU”, while others called into question how environmentally friendly it was to buy condiments from further afield.

Under UK rules inherited from the European Union, meat, fish and seafood products must be labelled with the country or place of origin before being sold to a consumer or mass caterer.

In some cases, EU rules stipulate that meat products without a single country of origin from outside the bloc should be described as being “non-EU”. The UK government has given retailers until October next year to switch over to marking these products as “non-UK” instead.

But The Independent understands the wording on the Morrisons label was a misinterpretation of packaging and labelling requirements.

Guidelines from the UK’s Food Standards Agency say that if a label’s design might mislead someone as to a product’s origin, it should prominently declare its actual origin to correct any misapprehension.

This may go some way to explaining the choices behind the label’s design, as it also features a large union flag and the words “British”. The approach on the chicken in question is out of line with industry practice however, and most similar products from other retailers do not clarify the origin of ingredients quite so prominently.

A spokesperson for the company said in a statement: “Our chicken label is adhering to British packaging regulations, however we will be redesigning it to make it clear this is not a political commentary.”

The spokesperson added that the wording was “an error for which we apologise”. The supermarket says it will de-emphasise the mention of “non-EU” salt and pepper but that it would have to be included somewhere on the wrapping due to packaging laws.

David Bright said he was “done shopping at Morrisons” in response to a photo of the chicken posted on Twitter, adding: “I can live with union flags on bananas, but the gratuitous slight on the EU is too much.”

While Douglas Murray asked: “@Morrisons All petty politics aside, can you explain how not buying condiments from our nearest trading partners is in any way environmentally positive?”

Another customer also called on the chain to look at a garlic chicken product that had similar labelling.

In defence of the supermarket, one Twitter user said: “I’m really unsure what the problem is? We are all supposed to be looking at airmiles, local is the best option surely? For our pockets and the environment, be that supermarkets or local independent shops.”

But another quickly pointed out: “It says British Chicken so if the salt and pepper was also British they’d proudly state it. Non-EU means it has come from far, far away!”

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