Artisan Food Law Blog
The Association of Bakery Ingredient Manufacturers, Federation of Bakers, Craft Bakers Association, The British Sandwich and Food To Go Association and Pizza, Pasta and Italian Food Association have come together and presented Defra with a proposed ‘UK Baking Industry Code of Practice for the Labelling of Sourdough Bread and Rolls’. In doing so they clearly seek to exploit the belief that “it is not at all certain that the majority of the bread-buying public are aware what ‘sourdough’ is, how it is produced, or what its typical characteristics should be.” The motivation comes from a recognition that a revival in the market for sourdough bakery products shows little sign of abating.
The purported aim of the Code is to “clarify the term and prevent misinformation when it is applied to products in the UK bakery market”. The reality, however, is quite different and represents a sourfaux or pseudough charter.
The number of dairy farms producing raw drinking milk for direct sale to consumers has grown from 114 in 2017 t0 166, a rise of 46% over the last two years.
It is against this background that the Raw Milk Producers Association (RMPA) was launched on 4 March by a group of dairy farmers currently producing and selling raw drinking milk direct to consumers. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has for some time planned to tighten controls over the sale of raw drinking milk which makes this a timely collaboration between producers who, working with the FSA, can ensure any new controls are reasonable and proportionate.
Among the Government’s latest no-deal technical notices published on 24 September is a short one on Producing food products protected by a ‘geographical indication’ if there’s no Brexit deal. It claims to set out the future in a no-deal scenario for those foods now protected by a geographical indication (GI), those now aspiring for protection and what may come to pass in the long term.
In the UK, food products bearing a 'protected food name' are on average sold at a significant premium to the price of otherwise comparable food. Protecting the authenticity and value of traditional foods is crucial if we are to sell the UK as a source of delicious and high-quality food, rooted in good food stories, traditional skills and history. Yet descriptions that protect both value and values are at risk from changes to our food rules consequent on the EU Withdrawal (Repeal) Bill and new international trade deals.
It has been striking to note the rise in recent months of the number of dairy farmers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who are turning to the direct sale of raw drinking milk. Mostly, it seems, by means of on-farm raw milk vending machines. In March this year there was a total of 114 producers of raw drinking milk registered with the Food Standards Agency (FSA), a figure which has now risen to 158, an increase of almost 39% in a little over six months. The decline in milk prices and increased production are seen as drivers for the growth of raw milk vending machines across Europe. Many see these machines as helping farmers steer through the dairy crisis by providing an alternative route to market at a more favourable price. Are we entering the Golden Age of raw drinking milk?
Some of you may be thinking that with Brexit looming what’s the point of a piece on bakery law? Well, it isn’t going to happen anytime soon, may take a decade or more and even then little may change. So, food law has been around a while, it all started with bread - the Assize of Bread and Ale 1266 to be precise - and here we cover some present day real bread law highlights.
A timely report from Public Health Collaboration on healthy eating caused quite a stir among those responsible for the recently revamped official Eatwell Guide and Public Health England. The report accused major public health bodies of colluding with the food industry and called for a major overhaul of current dietary guidelines. The focus on a low-fat diet fails to address Britain’s obesity crisis.
It may come as a surprise to those who have read all the criticism of EU regulations to be found elsewhere on this blog, but remaining a part of the EU is by far the better choice for small scale food producers. The UK must remain an integral and key player in the future of Europe following the vote this Thursday. The debate around what the UK contributes to the EU is well-rehearsed, suffice to say here that it amounts to just 11.8p a day to the average taxpayer or 0.37% of GDP in 2015. Contrast this with all the benefits derived from membership and it soon starts to look good value for money. Furthermore, the potential for change were the UK to leave the EU is almost entirely illusory - there would be no bonfire of regulations. A vote to leave would be hugely damaging to many small scale food producers, many may never recover, the burgeoning independent food scene in the UK would be dealt a serious blow. Much better to work on what we have than throw it all away.