An artisan sea salt company which was found by food inspectors to contain “80 per cent imported table salt”, has gone into liquidation.
Hebridean Sea Salt, which was lauded by celebrity chefs as a top Scottish product and marketed itself as harvested “by hand” in Loch Erisort on the Isle of Lewis, was investigated by the Western Isles Council and Food Standards Scotland earlier this year.
Now insolvency firm Wilson Field has been appointed as interim liquidator of the company.
A statement from the liquidator said: “Problems at the Lewis-based Hebridean Sea Salt have been well-documented in the local and national media, with claims made by the FSS that the product labelling was misleading because products contained 80 per cent of imported table salt.
“Owner and founder, Natalie Crayton, strongly disputed that her actions were deceptive and accused the FFS of “bully-boy tactics”.”
Ms Crayton previously claimed that “seeding” - where foreign salt crystals are added to sea water, was a common practice in the industry.
The probe began in February, while the firm ceased production a few weeks later.
Food Standards Scotland said in May that it believed revealing details of the case were “in the public interest” when it took the unusual step of issuing a statement during an investigation into the firm - and warned that the firm’s actions could damage the reputation of Scotland’s artisan foods.
It said: “Investigations discovered that over 80 per cent of the salt found in Hebridean Sea Salt did not originate in the Hebrides, but was imported table salt.”
Hebridean Sea Salt, which was the recipient of a coveted Great Taste Award, saw recent growth, successfully securing an order from supermarket giant Sainsbury’s, which sold its products at its 360 stores in a deal worth £180,000. It also received funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which contributed £174,573 to help expand the business.
Ms Crayton, a graduate of marine biology, launched the company five years ago.
Insolvency practitioners Fiona Grant and Lisa Hogg of Wilson Field were officially appointed as interim liquidators on Wednesday.
Documents filed with Companies House list Ms Crayton as one of two directors of the firm, alongside David Whiteford OBE, who is also a director of both the Aberdeen University Rowett
Institute of Nutrition and Health and Merchiston Castle School, among other business interests.
Ms Crayton was not available for comment.