"Nolans admit that their salmon is farmed. They also admit that the fish had been fed artificial colourings - in spite of claims on their package wrapping that states 'No artificial colourings'," states an SFPG press release.
The group claims that Wirral Trading Standards officers told them: "A sample will be submitted to the public analyst to determine if undeclared or incorrectly described colours are present. The main regulations are the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 and the Colours in Food Regulations, although it will be a matter for the Public Analyst to investigate further if he decides other regulations are breached."
Although officials from the UK's Food Standards Agency have told IntraFish in the past that they would like to see labelling which mentioned the use of carotenoid pigments in the diet of both non-organically-farmed salmon and egg-laying poultry, on the grounds of giving the consumer the maximum amount of information, IntraFish understands that, at present, there is no legal obligation to declare this on labelling, since the pigment is added to the feed and not the product.
SFPG chairman Bruce Sandison said: "In view of the assurance given to me on 15th April by Tesco’s Category Technical Manager, Jeremy Hooper, this is very disappointing. Mr Hooper told me then: "I am fortunate to have been involved with the generation of the fish labelling legislation at the EU and UK level and I can confirm to you that we changed the labels of all affected products, approximately six months ago.” I have now written to Mr Terry Leahy asking him to withdrawn the Nolans product from sale in his stores."
The SFPG has notified LACROS, the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services, and lodged a formal complaint with Trading Standards. Details have also been passed to the European Commission.
The last time that the group pursued a supermarket over the labelling of a specific smoked salmon product, it emerged that a processor had been given permission to use up old packaging which did not contain the information that the salmon used was farmed.
Although the SFPG's main battle is with the salmon farming industry, the irony is that the farmers are also desperately keen to see the products, of which they are proud, labelled as being "Farmed in Scotland", "Farmed in Ireland", and so on.