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Food Standards Agency (FSA)

A UK Government department monitoring the food we eat. They are also in charge of regulations concerning food labelling. They issue useful guidance, but have no enforcing power. Some of their guidelines are as follows.
1. Raw meat. This can be chilled to 1°C , what they call ‘chilled’ – but still sold as ‘fresh’.
2. Fruit juice: Juice made from a concentrate, should not be labelled ‘freshly-squeezed juice’ – and the name ‘fresh’ not used, directly or by implication, for juices produced in this manner. However, the term ‘pure’ can be used.
3. Fresh ingredients: Where the term ‘fresh ingredients’ is used, no processed ingredients should be used.
4. Chilled foods: The term ‘fresh’ should not be used for prepared ‘chilled’
5. Natural: The term ‘natural’ should only imply to a product comprised of natural ingredients – not interfered with by man in any way. Processes such as freezing, concentration, pasteurisation and sterilisation don’t fit the bill of ‘natural’ foods. However, a product could be labelled as ‘pasteurised natural lemon juice’.
6. Terms, such as – ‘natural goodness’, ‘naturally better’, or ‘nature’s way’ are largely meaningless and should not be used.
7. Pure: The term should only be used in the following circumstances.
1. to which nothing has been added.
2. that is free from adventitious contamination by similar foods
3. that has been extracted from naturally associated material, to which nothing has been added, provided it is made clear that it has undergone such a process i.e. ‘pure refined white sugar’ or ‘pure refined honey’.
4. Compound foods/pure: It is, however, acceptable to describe compound foods as ‘made with pure ingredients’, if all the ingredients meet the criteria above.
5. Traditional: The term ‘traditional’ should demonstrably be used to describe a recipe, fundamental formulation or processing method for a product that has existed for a significant period. The ingredients and process used should have been available, substantially unchanged, for that same period. The FAC considers it misleading to use the term ‘traditional’, without qualification, to distinguish an ‘original’ recipe from subsequent variants. Manufacturers should consider whether ther term ‘ original’ might be more appropriate.
6. Original: The term ‘original’ should only be used to describe food that is made to a formulation, the origin of which can be traced, and that has effectively remained unchanged over time. It can similarly be used to describe a process, provided it is the process first used in the making of the food, and which has remained unchanged over time. They also recommend that the term ‘original’ a product should not have changed to any material degree and that it should remain available as the ‘standard’ product when new variants are introduced.
7. Authentic: The FAC say its difficult to draw absolute distinctions between terms such as ‘authentic’. ‘real’, and ‘genuine’. They feel that the term ‘authentic’ and analogous terms should only be used in the following circumstances – to emphasise the geographic origin of a product, for example where it might be confused with other products of the same name that do not originate from that location, e.g. ‘authentic Devon toffees’; to describe the recipe used to make the product, the origin of which is specified, e.g. ‘authentic Indian recipe curry’; to emphasise the purity of single varieties of ingredients where such purity is essential to deliver specific characteristics.
8. Home-Made: This should mean – made in the home, or made by oneself in a domestic kitchen – not by a manufacturer. At the very least, they should be completely made on the premises.
9. Factory foods: These should not be packaged with illustrations misrepresenting them to be made in small kitchens, farmhouses etc.
10. Terms, such as ‘prime’, ‘country style’, have no meaning whatsoever.
A full copy of their guidelines can be obtained from Tel: 0845-606 0667 Fax: 020-8867 3225

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