Last week, Iceland foods (prop Malcom Walker – a keen shooter) was reported in the Daily Mail (editor Paul Dacre – grouse moor owner) as being about to stock frozen grouse in their stores.
This blog posted the following questions to Iceland (and emailed them to Mr Walker):
Iceland says: All Iceland brand products are clearly labelled on the back of our packs with a full and honest list of our ingredients, and information on their nutritional value.
This blog asks: will Iceland label their Red Grouse as probably having, on average, ten times the lead levels (a poison) as would be legally allowed for other meats? Will Iceland add a food safety warning in line with Food Standards Agency Advice, which we assume Iceland are aware of, but in case they are not it goes as follows, ‘The Food Standards Agency is advising people that eating lead-shot game on a frequent basis can expose them to potentially harmful levels of lead. The FSA’s advice is that frequent consumers of lead-shot game should eat less of this type of meat.’?
Iceland says: All Iceland brand products are sourced from approved suppliers at approved sites.
This blog asks: will Iceland name the shooting estates from which their Red Grouse are sourced so that the public can make up their own minds on their quality? How are their game suppliers approved and by whom?
Iceland says: Iceland respects the environment. Our efforts to reduce our environmental impact are co-ordinated by a cross-functional team, working closely with external partners including the Carbon Trust, WRAP and the British Retail Consortium Environmental Policy Action Group.
Iceland have posted an ‘information’ sheet on their website which demonstrates either that they don’t know much or that they don’t care much – it’s difficult to tell which. The ‘information’ note is very carefully worded so let me pick apart a few bits of it.
But first, the game comes from Kezie Foods whose two directors are a couple of people called Murray (based in Murray Street). Murray is a fairly common surname (maybe the 113th commonest in fact). For example it is the surname of the former boss of the Countryside Alliance in Scotland who lives nearby too. Can anyone tell me whether this is a link of kinship or one of those interesting coincidences that crop up in life? Just wondering. And, by the way, there’s a tennis player called Murray too.
And so, to Iceland! They are keen to talk about ‘game’ and not lead. The point is, or at least one point is, that the game that they are selling would be expected to have around 10 times the lead levels that would be legal for other forms of meat (beef, pork, chicken etc). Strangely, no lead limits are set for game meat – an administrative peculiarity. And so when Iceland say:
Game shot with lead ammunition has not been proven medically to have any adverse health effect.’ they would not be able to say ‘Meat with as much lead in it as the game that we will be selling has not been proven medically to have any adverse health effect‘ (assuming, as is overwhelmingly likely (but I don’t know for sure) that the grouse they are selling were shot with lead shot) because lead is a proven poison. That’s why the FSA updated their advice on eating game meat. Iceland’s statement is a bit like saying ‘People called Murray have not been proven to be dangerous drivers when drunk’; no, probably not, but they still are, aren’t they?