NFU Scotland yesterday claimed a leading discount supermarket chain has been misleading shoppers selling meat with labels featuring the Scottish Saltire and using the thistle emblem along with words stating “produced in Scotland” while the reality was the contents – beef and turkey – came from animals reared in the EU.
For the union, Wendy Fleming, accepted that Aldi had not infringed any labelling laws but believed that the use of iconic Scottish images was misleading as many consumers would have purchased packs of meat in the firm belief they actually contained Scottish produce.
She added that Aldi had been an important supporter of Scottish food and farming in other sections of its grocery products but she described using misleading branding as “hugely disappointing” even if the meat was packed in Scotland.
The union has written to the supermarket chain asking it to take immediate steps to rectify the situation.
And Laurent Vernet, Quality Meat Scotland’s head of marketing, said: “The products in question are labelled as ‘Products of Scotland’ and as such Trading Standards are responsible for monitoring them.
“We urge any consumers who spot misleading labelling to raise their concerns with the retailer in question.”
An Aldi spokesperson said: “While no labelling laws have been infringed, we recognise that use of the Scottish flag could suggest the products contain meat sourced and reared in Scotland.”
He added the company were already undertaking to re-label the range as soon as possible.
The problem arose, he said after it was considered appropriate to include the Scottish flag as the two meats in question come through the Scottish supply chain and were processed in Kirkconnel.
“Our cooked meat range in Scotland also includes three premium Specially Selected products. These are all reared and processed in Scotland and come from the same site, supporting jobs in the community there. We never intended to mislead customers and apologise if this has caused any confusion.”
Vernet added: “Consumers who want to be confident of the origin of what they are purchasing should look for the Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI or Specially Selected Pork labels.
“These labels guarantee traceability and that the meat comes from animals which have been born, reared and slaughtered in Scotland.
“Products displaying these labels also have robust quality assurance schemes behind them and these schemes also make welfare a priority.”