CPTPP Trade Deal
The UK will join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free trade area of 11 countries spanning the Indo-Pacific, the Prime Minister has announced today [Friday 31March]. The 11 members of the CPTPP are: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Chile, Japan, Malaysia , Mexico, Peru, Singapore and Brunei. China’s application to join is reportedly next in the queue.
More than 99 percent of UK goods exports to CPTPP countries will now be eligible for zero tariffs, including key UK exports such as cheese, cars, chocolate, machinery, gin and whisky.
Others have highlighted concerns for food safety, farming and environmental standards in the UK and in supply chains. Also that as part of the CPTPP deal, the UK has accepted 13,000 tonnes of beef to be imported from the trade bloc every year, starting from 10 years after the deal is signed.
A recall of has taken place where the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) have warned UK consumers to not eat Baronet semi soft cheeses. The UKHSA have carried out Whole Genome Sequencing surveillance of Listeriosis samples and has found three cases that are “potentially linked to an outbreak”. The FSA has also disclosed that one death has been linked to the food safety issue.
“The outbreak strain has also been found in some food products and samples taken from food environments, however there is no confirmation that Baronet is the cause of this outbreak,” said the FSA.
Symptoms caused by listeriosis can be similar to flu and include high temperature, muscle ache or pain, chills, feeling or being sick and diarrhoea.
The Old Cheese Room said: “We are working closely with our local environmental health officer and the Food Standards Agency, and will continue to do so. As a responsible cheesemaker, we carry out regular cleaning, disinfecting and swab testing of our making and ripening rooms. Since the test that showed a trace of listeria monocytogenes in Baronet, we have changed our monthly testing regime to positive release, this means that we test every batch of cheese before it leaves us. None of our other cheeses have been affected by this.”
The supplier last week said the outbreak had made real one of its “worst fears”. This underlines how important it is to have a crisis management plan in place for if or when the worst happens.
This month we heard from Farmers Weekly of an ongoing NFCU case called Operation Hawk –the investigation was related to imported, pre-packed sliced beef products being passed off as British in a then unknown supermarket that was later identified as Booths.
This week reports are that the meat company involved, Loscoe Chilled Foods, has appointed administrators.
The Derbyshire-based supplier had stressed this was an isolated incident and essentially a nislabelling issue. However, the administrators were called in after a a police and Trading Standards raid on 22 March, in which three directors had been arrested and “released under investigation” in connection with the case.
If any company doesn’t take its’ regulatory concerns seriously they should be referred to this matter. Whilst not a food safety concern, food fraud is taken extremely seriously.
EC report on food fraud in honey
A suspected 46 percent of European honey is adulterated according to a European investigation into the authenticity of honey sold in Europe. The report has found that 46 percent of samples tested were “suspicious to be adulterated”. Honey (2021-2022) (europa.eu)
Food fraud: Commission publishes guidance on fighting fraudulent and deceptive practices in the agri-food chain
The Commission has published a report JRC Publications Repository - Fighting fraudulent and deceptive practices in the agri-food chain (europa.eu) which is the result of a project to collect information on potential fraud risks identified by Member State authorities and control methods to detect fraudulent and deceptive practices in the agri-food chain. This report is expected to be used by Member States’ authorities in charge of official controls since it compiles good practice examples and challenges they face with the implementation of fraud related controls. The document was put together through a series of pilot and fact-finding studies of eight Member States between 2020 and 2022. The document presents challenges, opportunities and good practice examples in relation to the implementation of Article 9(2) of Regulation (EU) 2017/625 re use of official controls on a risk analysis basis. Member States’ competent authorities are required to not only detect violations of the rules governing the agri-food chain but also to identify possible intentional violations of those rules, perpetrated through fraudulent or deceptive practices by operators for the purpose of gaining an undue advantage. In 2019, it was estimated that, at global level, food fraud could have an impact of 30 billion€ per year.
Gene editing – Greenlight given for English research
The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act was passed into law last Thursday. Precision breeding involves using technologies such as gene editing to adapt the genetic code of organisms – creating beneficial traits in plants that through traditional, breeding would take decades to achieve. Although not popular with many environmentalists, the government claims the act will allow farmers to grow crops that are drought and disease resistant, reduce use of fertilisers and pesticides, and help breed animals that are protected from catching harmful diseases. Under the provisions of the act, a new science-based and streamlined regulatory system will be introduced to facilitate greater research and innovation in precision breeding - with stricter regulations remaining in place for genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
New Guidance Published - Rules for farmers and land managers
Summary guidance of the legal rules that apply in England when you keep livestock or manage land has been published by Defra 27 March 2023. Rules for farmers and land managers - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) Ref are to: Keep livestock, Protect animal health and welfare, Protect the environment if you keep livestock, Manage land that you own or occupy, Use pest control products, Apply products to your land, Produce plant varieties and seeds, Change to organic farming, Protect landscape features, Manage trees and woodland, Manage water, Manage and dispose of waste, Make compost, biogas, fertiliser or animal feed, Import, export or distribute animals and food.
Grants 1 – Cash to save endangered species
Funding between £50,000 and £500,000 over two years are available under the Species Recovery Capital Grant Scheme to be launched by Natural England (NE) in April. Species include hedgehogs and house sparrows. The application window opens on 3 April for six weeks
Grants 2 – Animal welfare scheme open
Defra’s Animal Health and Welfare Grant Scheme is now open and will continue for 12 weeks, with a deadline of 15 June. The scheme offers funding applications ranging from £1,000 to £25,000 for purchasing specified items such as cow mats, mobile handling systems, weighing equipment and perimeter fencing. The scheme is part of the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund and is only available in England. Animal Health and Welfare grants: apply now - Farming (blog.gov.uk)
Frank's Ice Cream Ltd
Upheld Internet (website content) 29 March 2023
The homepage of an Ice Cream website misleading implied that their products were suitable for diabetics and made unauthorised health claims.
Frank's Ice Cream Ltd - ASA | CAP
Food should not be misleading in stating it posesses special characteristics
The ad included the claims: “ICE CREAM DOESN'T HAVE TO BE OFF LIMITS FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES […]”; “OUR TOP SELLING ICE CREAM IS PREPARED TO A RECIPE MOST SUITABLE FOR DIABETICS […]“; “Due to labelling regulations 'Frank's Diabetic Ice Cream' is now named 'Frank's Dialicious Ice Cream'”; and “We are currently developing a range of diabetic flavours […]”. A testimonial also stated “My mum is diabetic […] Frank's is the only ice cream she can have, in fact it's the only dessert at all she can have”. The ASA considered those claims would be understood by consumers to mean that the product was particularly suitable for consumption by people with diabetes.
While such claims had previously been allowed, Regulation (EU) 609/2013 on Foods for Specific Groups, which came into force in July 2016 (and was retained in UK law), confirmed that there would no longer be a specific category of dietetic products that could make claims for their suitability for diabetics. Instead, the requirements of Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (also retained in UK law), applied to such statements. This included Article 7(1)(c) which required that food information should not be misleading by suggesting that the food possessed special characteristics when in fact all similar foods possessed such characteristics, in particular by specifically emphasising the presence or absence of certain ingredients and/or nutrients. Those requirements applied to both the labelling and advertising of food products.
The ASA understood that people with diabetes were able to consume all types of food, including ice-cream, within the context of a healthy and balanced diet, and that specialist foods were not necessary. In that context, they considered that claims that stated or implied that a food was suitable for diabetics were misleading, because they implied that no similar foods were suitable for diabetics when that was not the case (i.e. they implied that the food had special characteristics when all similar foods possessed such characteristics).
Specific Health Claims - need to substantiate & not exaggerate
Only specific health claims authorised on the Great Britain nutrition and health claims register (the GB NHC Register) could be made in ads promoting food or drink products. The Code defined health claims as those that stated, suggested or implied that a relationship existed between a food category, a food or one of its constituents and health. Any authorised health claims made in an ad must meet the associated conditions of use. Marketers could exercise some flexibility in rewording authorised claims, provided that the reworded claim was likely to have the same meaning for consumers as the authorised health claim, and the aim of the rewording was to aid consumer understanding, taking into account factors such as linguistic or cultural variations and the target population. Health claims must be presented clearly and without exaggeration.
The ad stated “Frank’s Dialicious is made with fructose, a natural simple sugar found in honey and fruit which carries a lower glycaemic load, or glycaemic index. This means it doesn’t cause a rapid and subsequent large fall in blood glucose levels. Consumption of foods containing fructose leads to a lower blood glucose rise compared to foods containing sucrose or glucose”. The ASA considered this was a specific health claim, because it implied that, because fructose had a lower glycaemic index, it would provide the specific health benefit of a slower and lower rise in blood glucose levels compared to foods containing sucrose or glucose.
Substantiation - The ASA acknowledged that the claim “Consumption of foods containing fructose leads to a lower blood glucose rise compared to foods containing sucrose or glucose” was an authorised claim on the GB NHC Register, in relation to fructose. It could only be used in relation to sugar-sweetened foods in which the glucose and/or sucrose was replaced by fructose, so that the reduction in content of glucose and/or sucrose was at least 30%. Frank’s Ice Cream had stated that their products met the conditions of use for that claim but did not provide the ASA with evidence to demonstrate that was the case.
Exaggeration - Notwithstanding that, the ASA noted that the wording of the authorised health claim did not refer to fructose having a lower glycaemic index or load. Nor did it refer to fructose causing a slower rise in blood glucose levels compared to sucrose and glucose. The ASA considered those rewordings of the authorised claim would not have the same meaning for consumers as the authorised wording. Because the ad included a specific health claim that did not accurately reflect the wording of the relevant authorised health claim in the GB NHC Register, and the ASA had not seen evidence that the product met the conditions of use for that authorised health claim, they concluded that the ad breached the Code.
This underlines the importance in ensuring all health claims are appropriately substantiated and do not exaggerate over and above the authorised claim nor mislead the consumer in how they are stated.