If you buy crab pâté you’re probably expecting to get a pâté that’s made mostly of crab. But it’s not always so straightforward. Should we have to read the label of every product to see the truth about what’s in it?
This month in Which? magazine we highlighted how some manufacturers label their products emphasising the most desirable ingredients, while ignoring the main ingredients.
One of our members bought John West’s Crab Pâté but when serving it noticed it contains 40% hoki (a white fish from the hake family) and only 20% white crab meat and 11% brown crab meat. Surely a more realistic description would be ‘hoki pâté with crab’?
And there are many other examples out there. An Aldi Duck and Port Pâté contains only 6% duck and 0.3% port but a whopping 45% pork, additional pork fat and 14% chicken. Discovery Guacamole Style Topping contains 3% rehydrated avocado, but 30% cream and even more water! Hardly the avocado dip you might be expecting.
The law on food labelling
Food labelling legislation exists to ensure consumers aren’t misled as to the nature of the products they buy. When we contacted Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) which deals with food labelling issues we were told:
‘There is no requirement as to what percentage of the ingredient the food must contain, solely that if it is named “crab pâté”, it must list the percentage of crab in the ingredients’.
We think this needs to change and want to see manufacturers and retailers name their products clearly and accurately.
But what do you think? Is it the responsibility of us to analyse every label of every product we buy? Who has the time when we’re rushing around the supermarket on the way home?
We also want to see how widespread this labelling practice is, so if you come across any examples we’re asking you to take pictures and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org – and tell us about them here.