May 28, 2024

Animal welfare campaigners are challenging the decision to allow producers of Scottish salmon to drop the word “farmed” from labelling.

An application by the industry body claimed changing the protected name wording on the front of packaging from “Scottish farmed salmon” to “Scottish salmon” made sense because wild salmon was no longer sold in supermarkets, which consumers were aware of.

But charities and chefs criticized the decision by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) last month to allow Salmon Scotland’s application, saying it facilitated greenwashing and would mislead consumers.

Rachel Mulrenan, from WildFish, one of the organizations bringing the legal challenge, said: “As sustainability issues become more important, this is a thinly veiled attempt by the Scottish salmon farming industry to pull the wool over consumers’ eyes, both in the UK. and further away.

“More than ever before, people need to know the true origin of the products they buy and consume, so that they can make informed decisions. This name change is a step in the wrong direction.”

The change relates to the labeling of salmon from Scotland under the protected geographical indication (BGA) scheme, which was introduced to replace a similar EU scheme. Other protected Scottish products include Scotch whisky, lamb and beef. The fact that the salmon is raised on a farm will still have to be displayed on the back of the packaging.

When the application was granted, Salmon Scotland said: “When consumers talk about ‘Scottish salmon’, they are talking about farm-raised Atlantic salmon from Scotland – and this change makes that clear.”

Abigail Penny, the executive director of Animal Equality UK, the other organization appealing the first-tier tribunal, said: “Changing a label does not change reality. The Scottish farmed salmon industry is riddled with problems. Lethal lice infestations and disease outbreaks are not only common, they are the norm, causing millions of salmon to die on farms each year. Rather than admit its ineptitude, the industry instead tries to bury the truth, and risks seriously misleading unsuspecting consumers in the process.”

Intensive salmon farming can also threaten wild salmon populations as escaped farmed fish breed with wild fish. More than 200 chefs and restaurants, as well as 60 community groups, charities and NGOs, are Support WildFish’s “off the table” campaignasking chefs and restaurants to remove farmed salmon from their menus.

Animal Equality UK and Wildfish claim that, as well as misleading consumers, the change to the PGI breaches assimilated EU regulation 1151/2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and food.

Tim Maddams, the former head chef of the River Cottage Canteen, said: “Whether it’s farmed salmon fed on wild-caught fish and raised in low-welfare lots that pollute these beautiful remote locations, or the vast array of non- complete places. -commitments to welfare standards (‘outdoor reared, free range food, outdoor raised’) of land-based agriculture, this decision is another nail in the coffin for Scotland’s wild salmon and sea trout and another opportunity for profit from this disappointing industry. “

Naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham, who is the president of the animal welfare charity the RSPCA, described the growing Scottish salmon farming industry as “catastrophic” for fish welfare and Scotland’s environment.

Salmon Scotland chief executive Tavish Scott said: “We know when consumers talk about ‘Scottish salmon’ they are talking about the salmon produced by our member companies and updating the PGI is a small but important clarification .”

Defra declined to comment while the proceedings were ongoing.

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