Under new EU rules, which will come into force in three years, we’ll now find bacon with more than 5% added water labelled as ‘bacon with added water’. So why isn’t everyone happy about this?
Don’t worry if this all sounds a bit familiar. Back in January we tested bacon for added water and found some huge variations, from 3% to 13%, depending on what you buy.
And at the moment bacon can contain up to 10% before it’s described as ‘with added water’.
We’ve been arguing for clearer labelling on a range of issues, from country of origin to nutritional labelling, with mixed results. So surely clarification of the rules on bacon is a good thing so that people know what they’re buying?
Not everyone’s happy with new rules
Well, the British Retail Consortium isn’t impressed. Quoted in the Daily Mail, it said that the water is needed to achieve the right ‘succulence, taste and texture’. It added: ‘There are early concerns that reducing the water could change the flavour quite substantially.’
That’s a great point if we’re talking about reducing the water, but we’re not. We’re talking about changing the labelling. Well, according to the Mail’s article, supermarkets and retailers are worried that labels now saying ‘bacon with added water’ will put off consumers.
The British Meat Processors Association get the patronising quote of the day prize: ‘Consumers won’t understand why bacon is suddenly carrying the added water label,’ said a spokesman.
There’s now more bacon in your bacon
This concern for consumers is touching, but in a time of soaring food prices it’s vital to know what we’re paying for, and that’s what clearer labelling does. Take the difference between “juice” and “juice from concentrate”. It allows, at a glance, to distinguish between a premium and value product without inspecting the ingredients list.
So if the EU came calling tomorrow, what would you label differently? There’s a few foods I still struggle with, including the difference between value and normal salmon. Although, our recent premium vs budget research clarified that one for me (premium salmon is prime fillet and fed a diet higher in fish oils). I’m still confused by ‘value’ beer though.