Salmon and Trout Association reports Sainsbury’s to Advertising Standards Authority and Trading Standards
The Scotland (S&TAS) has filed a formal complaint against Sainsbury’s over the supermarkets erroneous claims concerning the geographic origin of and doubts over responsible claims made for its Taste the Difference Scottish farmed salmon.
The complaint is addressed to both the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Trading Standards as it relates both to the packaging of Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Scottish farmed salmon products (the remit of Trading Standards) and the claims made about those products on the Sainsbury’s website (the remit of the ASA).
Packaging of Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference salmon bought in January and April 2013 states that the fish are reared in sheltered, fast-flowing seawater locations around the Isles of Skye, Lewis and Uist.
In fact, the individual farms specified on the packaging are all located in rather less fast-flowing locations in Loch Fyne in Argyll, on the mainland of Scotland.
Sainsbury’s website also says that its supplier of salmon is Marine Harvest. In fact, the farms listed are owned and operated by The Scottish Salmon Company, one of Marine Harvests main competitors.
The Sainsbury’s packaging states that the salmon is responsibly sourced although there is no explanation as to what responsibly sourced means.
Sea-lice numbers on farmed fish in excess of industry thresholds, benthic pollution with sea-lice treatment chemicals in excess of Environmental Quality Standards, escapes of farmed fish, unsatisfactory organic pollution of the sea-bed with uneaten food and faeces and farmed salmonid diseases have all been recorded in Loch Fyne.
Claims are made on the Sainsbury’s website about responsible sourcing that are ill-defined, but seek to afford the product credibility regarding environmental performance which cannot be verified by the customer, contrary to UK Government guidance on such claims.
Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor to the S&TA Aquaculture Campaign, said:
“The S&TAS complaint shows that it is time for the supermarkets to take responsibility for what they are selling and how they market it. This complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority and Trading Standards is about Sainsbury’s and the claims made on its packaging and on its website.
Quite apart from issues of identifying exactly where its farmed salmon comes from, the S&TAS believes Sainsbury’s must substantiate its responsible sourcing assertions with hard facts about named farms and not just general assurances. Without this, discerning consumers may not have confidence in what they are being asked to buy.”
Mr Linley-Adams continued:
“Sainsbury’s are not alone in failing to come clean about their Scottish farmed salmon products. Claims by other supermarkets of salmon being responsibly farmed or responsibly sourced are vague and inadequate. The supermarkets clearly know there is an issue here after all, we don't see responsibly farmed sweetcorn or tinned tomatoes on the supermarket shelves, do we?”
Hughie Campbell Adamson, Chairman of S&TA Scotland, commented:
“Supermarkets have a duty to be honest and transparent about the food they sell. Farmed salmon, grown in open-net marine cages, can come at a heavy environmental cost, not least in its impact on wild salmon and sea trout. We do not need greenwash or vagueness here. We need hard data against which to judge these farms.
For example, we believe that Sainsbury’s should now require all the farms from which it sources its farmed salmon as a condition of supplying salmon to Sainsbury’s to publish weekly farm-specific sea-lice parasite counts against which claims made by the fish-farmers can be properly assessed.”