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Salt firm investigated for ‘deception of consumers’

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Matt Atherton

By Matt Atherton+

19-May-2017
Last updated on 19-May-2017 at 13:03 GMT2017-05-19T13:03:25Z

Food Standards Scotland claimed more than 80% Hebridean Sea Salt's products were imported
Food Standards Scotland claimed more than 80% Hebridean Sea Salt's products were imported

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) is investigating Hebridean Sea Salt after claims revealing 80% of its salt was imported.

FSS said 80% of the salt branded as Hebridean Sea Salt was imported table salt. It said the measure of consumer deception could impact Scotland’s food and drink reputation.

According to an FSS statement: “Investigations discovered that over 80% of the salt found in Hebridean Sea Salt did not originate in the Hebrides, but was imported table salt. This is not simply a case of mis-labelling.

“It is FSS’s view that, whilst this is not a food safety issue, deception of consumers on this scale is not acceptable and could damage Scotland’s well-deserved reputation for high quality, authentic food and drink products.”

‘Deception of consumers’

The Scottish food safety watchdog is supporting Western Isles Council in the investigation, it confirmed.

FSS said: “We would not normally disclose the details of an active and ongoing investigation. However, given the coverage of this case, we believe it is now in the public interest to disclose the issues that are under investigation.”

Western Isles Council said it would not comment on an ongoing investigation. Hebridean Sea Salt couldn’t be contacted for comment on the allegations, as its website was suspended.

Its comments came after media reports that the founder of Hebridean Sea Salt blamed the “bully-boy tactics” of FSS for the collapse of the business. Natalie Crayton claimed her business had closed, and that FSS had taken all of her products.

Crayton said she had been adding sea salt crystals to local sea water when it is drying out for about 18 months, but it was common practice among larger brands. The process – known as ‘seeding’ – was declared to the Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA), a food safety certification scheme, she claimed.

‘So much misinformation’

“I would like to put the record straight because there is so much misinformation being put out there,” Crayton told The Herald earlier this week.

“This is not a food safety issue. It is a labelling issue, which had been resolved. The salt I added is pure food-grade sea salt with no additives. Yet my business has been destroyed by the bullying behaviour of FSS, which hid behind Western Isles Council environmental health officers to enforce my closure.”

Western Isles Council handled the issue discretely, Clayton said, but FSS pushed it to make – what she felt – were the wrong decisions.

For more information on Hebridean Sea Salt’s row with FSS, click here .

Meanwhile, FSS will be in court next month with Lanarkshire cheesemaker Errington Cheese, over a long-running dispute on the source of last year’s E.coli O157 outbreak.

Hebridean Sea Salt investigation – at a glance
  • FSS alleged 80% of firm’s salt was added table salt
  • Investigation ongoing
  • Firm’s owner accused FSS of “bully-boy tactics”
  • ‘Seeding’ common practice for other brands, owner claimed

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