You may have noticed that my team has removed the phrase ‘No hormones’ from our website and packaging, and amended ‘No antibiotics’ to ‘Raised without antibiotics’. Naturally, nothing has changed in terms of the product quality or provenance, it is simply that there has been a clarification from the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) that these terms are not to be used by any retailer in Singapore. For me, this helps frame an interesting debate around the quality and provenance of food, how we can label things accurately, and whether a level playing field should apply to food.
The SFA view on ‘no hormones’ is that all animals contain hormones. We are also not allowed to say ‘free from growth stimulants’ as grain is considered to be a growth hormone. This is challenging given the difference between an animal’s natural hormones and hormones that are added to speed up the growth process.
We offer a point of difference, where our farmers do not dabble in these unsustainable practices, but we are not able to share this with you.
On 'no antibiotics’, the SFA does not allow this claim as no meat in Singapore should contain antibiotics at point of consumption. However, there is a huge difference between farmers that administer antibiotics to all of their animals at an early age to prevent disease and farmers that use antibiotics as they are meant to be used – to treat an individual animal that has caught a disease. We obviously only work with the latter and a vet always signs off the meat as being free from any trace of antibiotics before they are allowed to be processed for sale. We are no longer allowed to say ‘no antibiotics’ and instead must say ‘raised without antibiotics’. Our sourcing practices and our products remain as they always have.
I firmly believe that bogus claims made within the industry must be stamped out. You only have look to the UK and the horsemeat scandal, or Tesco’s fake farms. Customers need to be kept safe and be able to make informed choices about what they are putting in their bodies, and their children’s.
It is important to recognise that not all food (especially meat) is produced equally and I look forward to the day that I am able to shout from the rooftops about our farmers’ quality and provenance!