Assured Food Standards is considering amending its rules to allow wider use of the Red Tractor logo on composite products - in a move likely to be greeted by as much opposition as support.
At present, the Red Tractor logo can only be used on composite products if the “principal ingredient” makes up at least 65% of the total product - for example, a pork pie can only be labelled as containing Red Tractor pork, if the pork accounts for at least 65% of the total ingredients.
This has led to frustration among retailers and brands whose products contain Red Tractor assured ingredients but do not meet the 65% threshold and therefore cannot carry the logo. One source told The Grocer supermarkets “would be keen” for AFS to re-examine the 65% minimum, particularly for frozen products.
AFS said it had recently faced calls both to relax and tighten its criteria for the logo, and it understood the opportunity to promote assured produce in recipe dishes.
“We will discuss this in some detail in the next couple of weeks and decide whether to amend the current rules,” said CEO David Clarke.
However, while AFS was open to considering a change to its rules, it was worried the Red Tractor logo could be “misused,” he added. “There is concern as to whether it would be misleading to the consumer to highlight the provenance of a minor ingredient when no information is provided about the others,” Clarke said.
Since the start of the horsemeat scandal, farming organisations have been promoting the Red Tractor heavily.
NFU president Peter Kendall urged consumers to buy British at the NFU conference this week, saying: “Start by looking for the Red Tractor logo - it stands for traceable and independently inspected food from farm to pack.”