On BBC TV 'News at Ten' this week was a typical example of how anything to do with the EU referendum is often not being properly reported.
Len Forman, a producer of smoked salmon, complained that because of EU regulations, he had to spend thousands of pounds to meet EU labelling regulations just to say that his product 'contains fish'.
There was no questioning by the BBC journalist; this was just accepted as fact.
It was not good journalism.
EU rules are in place to make sure fish is labelled correctly and consistently at the point of sale, so purchasers know exactly what they are buying.
This goes beyond the requirement simply to show that the product ‘contains fish’ (fish being one of 14 allergens that have to be clearly shown on food labelling).
Under EU labelling regulations, following widespread public consultation, passed by the European Parliament, and introduced as a Statutory Instrument by our UK government under the Fish Labelling Regulations 2013, packaging for fish products also has to include, for example:
• the ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date
• the quantity
• the commercial designation of the species (ie an agreed common name for the species of fish)
• the production method (ie whether caught at sea, caught in inland waters or farmed)
• the catch area (ie either the ocean area, or in the case of freshwater fish, the country in which it was caught or farmed)
• any allergens
• the scientific name
• a declaration on whether the fish was previously frozen
That's a much bigger requirement than just having to say the product 'contains fish'. But you would not know this from BBC news.
Since all food products need to be packaged and labelled anyway, can it really be claimed that it 'costs more' to add some extra information on the label - information that most shoppers actually want?
And having a standard for labelling across our continent makes it easier for exporters. The costs of labelling would be much higher if each EU country had different standards for labelling.
It seems many voters still don’t know much about the EU from our news, and how EU regulations, often demanded by consumers, are democratically decided to protect citizens across our continent.
There's just 45 days before the British electorate vote in the referendum on whether or not Britain should remain a member of the EU..
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#EUReferendum: #BBC News fishy report about #EU#labelling requirements. Share my report: https://t.co/w6AgnSVf3o pic.twitter.com/dF5w4XEvtb— Jon Danzig (@Jon_Danzig) May 9, 2016