British logo on food with imported ingredients

Rules governing the British Red Tractor logo have been revised so the label can appear on food products containing imported ingredients.

Assured Food Standards (AFS), the company that oversees the logo, said the changes would enable the label to be used on food products containing one-third imported ingredients so long as the primary ingredient remained British.

The My Red Tractor website, which is aimed at consumers, tells shoppers: “If you see the Union Flag in the logo, you can be sure the product has come from UK farms. No doubts, no compromise.”

But AFS believes more British farmers will benefit by its decision allowing the logo to highlight the provenance of British farm-assured ingredients within processed food containing up to 35% imported raw materials.

AFS chief executive David Clarke told Farmers Weekly: “We used to run into stupid situations where we couldn’t promote British meat because it was seasoned with imported ingredients. It was cutting off our nose to spite our face really.”

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One of the first products to include the logo under the revised labelling rules is Sainsbury’s Wholegrain Cranberry Wheat breakfast cereal. It is made of 65% British wheat and 35% imported cranberries.

Mr Clarke rejected suggestions that using the logo on the cereal was confusing. To ensure clarity, the ingredient to which the label referred – in this case wheat – was printed in capital letters underneath the logo which sits on a Union Flag background.

But there is no similar wording below the logo on Tesco’s Light Choices Cottage Cheese and Pineapple, which contains 18% pineapple. In this case, the tractor label should include the word “milk” to indicate that only the cheese is British.

AFS said the Tesco cottage cheese had been correctly labelled. But it conceded that, ideally, the label should have included the word “milk”. This had been identified as an amendment and was in the process of being rectified.

A Tesco spokesman said: “We are waiting for the current stock of labelling to go through the supply chain. The word ‘milk’ will then be added below the tractor to make it very, very clear to our customers we are not referring to the pineapple.”