Hygiene campaign criticised for lamb portrayal

An advertising campaign featuring an image of lamb chops served in a urinal has been criticised by the organisation for English beef and lamb levy payers.

The Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) campaign, is designed to encourage people to check the hygiene ratings of restaurants. Launched last month with adverts appearing in press titles, it has provoked strong feelings in the sheep industry, said EBLEX director Nick Allen.

Using lamb as the ‘poster boy’ for this campaign was ill-judged and could possibly damage public perception of the meat, he said.

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“The image of a lamb dish in a urinal undoubtedly associates our product with poor food hygiene, while the reality is that lamb, and red meat in general, is rarely linked with food poisoning.

“It is extremely disappointing that an organisation such as the Food Standards Agency should call into question consumer trust in our product in this way.”

Official figures show lamb is rarely associated with food poisoning, Mr Allen said, with just 14 per cent of 70 foodborne outbreaks reported in the UK in 2010 identified as associated with red meat and only a fraction with lamb.

A spokesperson for the FSA said: “This campaign is about food establishments, not the food shown. The aim is to encourage consumers to check hygiene ratings of food establishments using the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.”

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The imagery also featured on phone kiosks at 725 locations in Scotland. No further use was scheduled, the FSA said, adding that its campaign had finished but ongoing ‘spin-off’ activity was being carried out by local authorities.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board is submitting a complaint on EBLEX’s behalf to the Advertising Standards Authority claiming the campaign is misleading.