We’ve had the pleasure of working closely with the Food Standards Agency on our new award-winning menu management app, so can share this snippet of information we picked up in a meeting yesterday:
From this time next year, new food labelling laws will start to require all packaged and unpackaged goods to show the food’s environmental & social impact to the consumer.
It’s been a long time coming, of course – we’ve long been aware that most foods are only cheap at the till and that we pay for them with low wages, water pollution, drought, air pollution, wildlife depletion, NHS bills, water taxes, CAP payments, NO2 emissions, landfill methane and more.
So this new legislation – which will be phased in over 3 years to coincide with the falling cost of health apps and internet-connected pollution sensors – comes as a great boon to responsible food producers everywhere.
“By the time you include subsidies and all the things mentioned above, the true cost of food is far higher than we pay at the till” says someone at the Soil Association. “Sustainable production delivers the same food without the social and environmental cost, whilst also delivering meaningful livelihoods, thriving resilient local economies, glorious biodiversity, and an unbeatably healthy nutrient cycle.”
Last year the Sustainable Food Trust held the first “True Cost Accounting” conference to address this exact issue directly. the event organiser hails this change as a great success, “well, honestly, it’s about bloody time, isn’t it? I mean anyone who’s looked at the food system for more than 10 minutes will tell you there’s a huge problem. This one was obvious 30 years ago at least. I’m glad that the government as finally decided to do its job and fix this market failure.”
This change is welcomed by the NFU, too. Typically the first to bristle at any change to the status quo, someone pointed out that “this measures the costs AND the benefits. That means we can charge MORE for the good stuff whilst reducing out costs! We can actually – for the first time in centuries – make this a race to the top for quality, not a fight to see who can get to be ‘too big to fail’ quickest and exploit government subsidies and the ecosystem for another 30 years”.
Part of UK Gov’s commitment to be “the Greenest Government ever”, this new legislation also builds on the Food Information for Consumers act which came into force in December 2014. This legislation removed the ability to masquerade ‘palm oil’ as ‘vegetable oil’ – which was praised at the time as being a great step forward for transparency and consumer choice.
Our CEO, Ed Dowding, says “it was clear that when the allergen legislation was introduced late last year it wasn’t just about allergens – that was just an easy area to place start with a series of regulatory steps to increase the transparency and accountability of the food system. Horse-gate was a wake up call to the government that when people find out what’s really going on in the food system they totally freak out. If they were aware of the real harm that’s being done in their name they’d be sick to their stomachs.”
He went on, slightly unstoppably, “we pussyfoot around this issue all the time, trying to nudge people into doing the right thing – making it easy for them by making super-easy to use services to help them source local food whilst meeting their statutory requirements but rather than giving green ticks to the people who are already going great work, we could make a lot more impact by naming and shaming and fining the worst offenders.”
Alas, yes, this is just an April Fool, and all quotes are totally made up. However new food labelling laws WERE introduced last year and most of the businesses we’ve spoken to are still not compliant. That’s why we genuinely did build you a super-easy menu management tool which not only highlights the allergens in you menu (making you customers and EHO very happy indeed) it also ties in with FoodTrade.com to help your source the very best of what’s around. Check it out now and use the coupon code “AprilFool” (valid today only) for a 50% discount, bring the price to just £48 per year. All funds will help us develop more services to support sustainable food trade everywhere.
Happy Spring, everyone!
Ed, the ranting CEO of FoodTrade..