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?
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.
Late last summer Artisan Food Law wrote about a forthcoming short study, undertaken on behalf of and working with Slow Food International, on the impact of 'flexibility' within the Hygiene Package which has now been completed. Few question the need for stringent rules regulating industrial food production, but when we talk about artisan cheese producers we are referring to a group of producers who exercise direct control over the whole of the production process and a very different situation. There is some concession made for small scale producers in the Hygiene Package in the form of 'flexibility'. It all sounds like a great idea. In practice it involves a regulatory system of derogations or exemptions, adaptations and exclusions beyond the comprehension of all but the most committed legal mind. Are these arrangements and the policy they reflect fit for purpose?
The Sole of Discretion will create a new supply chain which fairly rewards responsible fishers. Consumers will get fresh, high quality fish despatched or frozen within hours of a catch being landed. Sole of Discretion will put provenance, quality and fairness at the heart of its business model.
Yes, this is a crowdfunding project, but if you care about food and have a conscience it is one you must seriously consider!
Do EU hygiene rules unduly constrain artisan food producers in the quality and range of food they are able to make? Artisan Food Law is working with Slow Food International on a study across Europe into this critical issue. The first stage will focus on artisan cheese and dairy production and we will be using the opportunity presented by Slow Cheese in Bra, Italy next month to further our research.
The refrain that EU food hygiene rules are excessive and place a disproportionate burden on small scale food producers is often heard, usually expressed in a despairing tone of voice. What may be reasonable in regulating industrial and factory processed food is out of all proportion to what is necessary in small scale food production. Do you have a story to tell? We would like to hear from you ... read on.
Early last year the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) embarked on a consultation with a view to producing guidance that would help protect the integrity of certain marketing terms used in relation to food – notably ‘artisan’, ‘farmhouse’, ‘traditional’ and ‘natural’.
Attempts to define in any legal sense the meaning of words can be fraught with difficulty, but given there is so much evidence of the abuse of words like ‘artisan’ may be it’s worth a try.