Yn cynrychioli holl wasanaethau safonau masnach ledled Cymru
Representing all trading standards services across Wales

Trading Standards Wales Week - Day 1 - Recipe for trouble

Trading Standards Wales (TSW) advises caution to consumers and to check the descriptions on food products they buy, so that they are confident that they are receiving what they think they are paying for.

The 2022/23 Trading Standards Wales Impacts & Outcomes report shows that during the period, over 1,500 business were identified as supplying food that was misdescribed, did not correctly declare allergens, contained toxic or illegal components or was involved in food fraud.  Whilst this represents a low percentage of food businesses, the importance of compliance in this sector cannot be underestimated.

During May to August 2023, the Greater Gwent Food Group visited 102 food businesses, to examine compliance.  It was reported that 24% had incorrect allergen labelling, and 16% had not provided allergen awareness training to staff, and in 7% of food businesses, staff were unable to locate or access food allergen information provided to them by their Food Business Operator. 

In relation to precautionary allergen labelling, 28% made a precautionary statement, but only 21% of those had carried out a risk assessment to determine if there is a real risk of cross contamination. 

The Food Standards Agency continues its food hypersensitivity work and has recently consulted on precautionary allergen labelling.  TSW supports developments around hypersensitivity and continues to work with businesses and consumers to promote allergy awareness through the further promotion of multi-lingual allergen resources.  

Further work has been carried out in food businesses to consider shrinkflation, quantity descriptions and pricing.  

Following evidence collated by the Competition and Markets Authority which indicates that, over the last two years, around three quarters of branded suppliers in products such as infant formula, baked beans, mayonnaise and pet food have increased their unit profitability and, in doing so, have contributed to higher food price inflation - Competition, choice and rising prices in groceries - GOV.UK; Price inflation and competition in food and grocery manufacturing and supply - GOV.UK, Trading Standards in Wales weighed or measured over 4,000 common ‘shopping basket’ products.  It was pleasing to note that only 2 products were sufficiently short measure that should not have been sold. 

The CMA continues its work in the grocery sector, currently examining loyalty card offers - Loyalty pricing in the groceries sector - GOV.UK, and Trading Standards services within Wales are involved in the CMA investigation into pricing.

In the midst of the cost of living crisis, TSW offers caution to consumers to check labels of products to be confident in your purchases, and use unit pricing in store to determine if the offer in front of you does present the best value for money.  If you are switching your brand of food, do not assume the same allergens will be present in products of the same type.  Similarly, businesses may be reformulating their existing products to keep costs down, so again, keep reading the labels of your commonly bought products, even if you think you know the allergens within.  

Subscribe to the FSA's news alerts and Allergy UK for information about allergies and alerts for products that are being recalled due to undeclared allergens.

If you have a complaint, please contact the Citizens’ Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.  Trading Standards Departments receive complaint notifications from Citizens’ Advice, which help us target rogue businesses.

For further information, please go to our home page and our YouTube channel 

The podcast for Day 1 can be heard here: 

Follow us on “X” (formerly “Twitter”) @WalesTS

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