I have sent a complaint about Tesco Ireland to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland as it is clear to me that they have misleading labelling on some of their products. What is most frustrating about Tesco’s practice is that they are selling imported produce that many of our local producers here in Fingal are producing, but giving the impression that it is Irish produce. I was in Tesco’s in Rush recently and picked up several different bags of mixed salad with the label ‘Prepared in Drogheda’ accompanied by an Irish flag. Anyone giving a cursory glance at this label would have thought that they were supporting Irish producers, but this is not the case. On enquiring with Tesco’s about such bags of mixed salad leaves I was told that the leaves were sourced from Italy and Spain. What is more there is no mention of Italy or Spain on the package. This is grossly misleading labelling and I have asked the Food Safety Authority, which has responsibility for food labelling legislation to conduct a full review of Tesco labelling of fresh produce that links itself to Ireland.
This is just one example of a food system that is very dysfunctional. We have growers across Fingal that are being undercut by below cost vegetables from other countries and are forced to let food rot in Irish fields while the same vegetables are imported from another country. The fact that some multiples are using misleading advertising and labelling as part of this is infuriating and must be dealt with decisively.
Our food system is one that has not traditionally got much attention from our policy makers but that is something I hope to change if elected to Fingal County Council in May. I would like to initiate a Food Policy Council in Fingal whereby various stakeholders in the production and consumption of food can come together to develop a food system that benefits all in our local economy and is sustainable in the long term. A Food Policy Council can also help to develop the artisan food industry which has huge untapped potential in Fingal and it can also look at ways to encourage and facilitate healthier eating habits and tackle food poverty. With the childhood obesity crisis I think schools in particular could have an important role to play in the development of a Food Policy Council.
The first Food Policy Council in Ireland was launched on St. Patrick’s weekend. More information on Cork Food Policy Council is at this link: http://corkfoodpolicycouncil.com/