Food marketing term guidelines recently introduced in Ireland have already proven their worth. McDonalds Ireland last week announced the introduction of their new McMor burger in Irish outlets, describing the product as an ‘Irish artisan burger’. But McDonalds were quickly issued a warning by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) that the product does not fit the definition of ‘artisan’.
McDonalds Ireland issued a press release on August 31 introducing the new menu item, which they collaborated with Dawn Meats, Kerry Foods and McCormick Flavour Group to create. The headline of the press release reads: “McDonald’s Ireland Launches Irish Artisan Burger” and McDonalds Marketing Director Roma O’Connor is quoted as describing the item as “our first ever Irish artisan burger’. Coverage of the launch widely referred to it as ‘artisan’. However, by the following day the Food Safety Authority of Ireland had contacted McDonalds to inform them that the word ‘artisan’ is now defined by law and asking them to withdraw the term.
The Taste Council of Ireland, a group representing the artisan, traditional and speciality food sector administered by Bord Bia, has spent several years looking for legal protection of marketing terms which are associated with quality small-scale food production, but now often appear on highly processed foods and risk misleading customers. As a result the FSAI established a working group and, earlier this year, published guidance on the use of the food marketing terms Artisan/Artisanal, Farmhouse, Traditional and Natural. Under the guidelines the terms ‘Artisan/Artisanal’ can be used to describe “limited quantities of food made by skilled craftspeople in a microenterprise where characteristic ingredients are locally sourced where practical”.
Speaking on behalf of the Taste Council, chairperson Kevin Sheridan commented: “This is exactly the kind of instance these guidelines were designed to protect against. We have amazing skilled farmers and food producers in this country producing food with truly artisan and traditional methods and we know from research that this is the kind of food customers expect when they buy something that is described with those terms. We want to commend the FSAI for acting quickly and highlighting the new protection of these terms to McDonalds”.