Tesco has asked its suppliers to denote country of origin on the front of packaging of its Woodside Farms bacon, after being accused of a lack of transparency in its labelling policy.
The retailer’s unsmoked back bacon sold under the ‘fake farm’ Woodside brand does not carry any indication of country of origin in the usual place at the front of its packaging, which remains blank.
Instead, it states on the back of the pack, in small print among the ingredients, that the bacon was ‘made using British and EU pork’.
Tesco has come under fire before over its Woodside Farms brand, which many farmers believe gives a misleading impression that products come from British farms, and it came in for another wave of criticism over its bacon labelling policy, after the issue was raised on Twitter.
One farmer accused Tesco of ‘dishonest tactics’ in ‘obscuring the country of origin with fake farm branding in order to take advantage of lower cost systems’, while another post suggested it was showing a ‘blatant lack of support for UK farmers’ and that many farmers were losing patience with it. Others urged people to shop elsewhere.
Commenting on Twitter, Tesco said it was using the ‘new format required by the new enforced regulation in the UK’. But Tesco’s interpretation has been questioned as this appears to refer to processed products with ingredients from multiple origins.
Tesco said the new legislation, which came into force on April 1, requires that ‘if you make a claim about the origin of a food product you must declare the origin of all the primary ingredients in the product if they come from a different country or place’.
There is legal obligation to carry country of origin labelling on processed products like bacon. But Tesco said this product does not carry a claim about its origin but it had voluntarily provided this information for customers on the back of the label.
But it acknowledged there is not a mix of origin in a pack of bacon and said it had asked its suppliers to reflect the country of origin on the front of pack for the next batch.
NPA senior policy adviser Ed Barker said it was important that, where practical, retailers denoted country of origin clearly on packaging.
“There is no reason why products sourced from a single country cannot be accurately identified and labelled,” he said. “The British pig industry has been well supported by consumers during lockdown, but they can only continue to support us with accurate labelling information.”