Since we took on the role with Trading Standards under their Primary Authority Partnership we have been fairly — or more accurately, unfairly — battered by artisans who are upset that we have to advise them of the Law and Regulations. ‘Who are you to tell me what to do’ being the general tone.
Before we invest more of our time in this process would you like to put forward your point of view? We have a meeting with Trading Standards next week and it would be useful to be able to give them some pointers for the future.
It would seem that most people want the Jam & Similar Products ( England ) 2003 to just go away. That is, if they knew about them in the first place. The simple quiz that we ran a few weeks ago generated a pass rate of just 30% with most not even having the most basic knowledge of the requirements of the Law. This doesn’t apply just to producers by the way, most of the individuals involved in the industry seem to have no understanding either.
So having no legislation for artisan production — which we have been told by some is just red tape anyway — means no protection for the consumer. Should it just be buyer beware?
How would you decide whether to put allergens on or not? How would you know what they are? If someone wants to buy marmalade or jams with horseradish, carrot cake, vinegar, milk, laver, anything-you-like, then should it be possible for that to be a thing?
Sugar, no-sugar, some sugar, sweeteners — but we don’t have to tell you how much, or what they are because there are no Regulations. What about durability, storage conditions, labelling requirements, weights and measures?
Let’s assume that this is what everyone wants, then how do we go about achieving it? Who is the ‘someone’ that needs to address it? How are you going to approach the powers that be to convince them that this is the way forward and ‘what everyone wants’?
You — someone — someone with the time to spare away from their business — someone you will need to pay — will probably need to organise you into a representative body, one that can have dialogues with Trading Standards, Environmental Health, Food Standards Agency, Food Information for Consumers, Health & Safety and above all Defra. A body to put forward your views and to be effective in making the artisan production in the United Kingdom the best that it can be. A body that can truly work for you and make significant progress on your behalf.
That’s who we think we are.