Iceland: “Food you can trust”?

Iceland (the supermarket) really wants us to believe that the food they sell is “food you can trust“. It’s their tagline. It appears twice on the front of this store we recently visited. If the customer fails to notice it as they enter the shop they get another opportunity to read it as they walk away. It’s clearly an important marketing strategy for this company.

Iceland Food you can Trust - Copy

It’s an interesting word, ‘trust’. Synonyms include ‘confidence’, ‘belief’, ‘faith’, ‘sureness’, ‘certainty’, ‘assurance’. It implies ‘freedom from suspicion/doubt’.

Antonyms include ‘disbelief’, ‘doubt’, ‘uncertainty’, ‘distrust’.

Food you can trust” is certainly an interesting choice of tagline. As consumers, we might all expect the food we buy from high street supermarkets to be trustworthy, yes? Well, no, as the recent horse meat scandal showed. In fact it was as a result of the horse meat scandal that Iceland rolled out this tagline in a bid to reassure customers of the quality of its foods. Since then, Iceland has gone to great lengths to demonstrate that nay, their beefburgers do not contain horse (see here). Marvellous, what a comfort.

But what about trusting other food sold by Iceland? Say, red grouse for example? As regular blog readers will be aware, this summer Iceland began selling frozen red grouse that was shot last year. When this news broke in July, we had a number of questions to ask of Iceland (see here) about how the sale of this product fitted in with their published statement on corporate responsibility, especially as they claim to be “committed to providing safe, healthy and ethically sourced food”. We wondered how Iceland could meet these standards when Marks and Spencer had abandoned their red grouse sales for two years running (here and here) because they couldn’t meet their own ethical standards?

Sadly, Iceland CEO Malcolm Walker failed to respond directly to our questions – he was probably too busy being trustworthy – and instead Iceland published a rather vague statement on its website (see here). Incidentally, it was noted in the August 2015 minutes of the Lead Ammunition Group meeting that ‘the Iceland supermarket website information on game was not in line with current Food Standards Agency guidance’ (see here).

Following Iceland’s press statement, we asked more questions of Malcolm Walker, specifically about our concerns (distrust) that the red grouse being sold in his supermarkets could be described as safe, healthy and ethically sourced (see here). Alas, it seems that being ‘trustworthy’ doesn’t include being transparent about the food supply chain – Mr Walker has refused to answer the questions. So instead of being filled with ‘confidence’,’ belief’, ‘faith’, ‘sureness’, ‘certainty’ and ‘assurance’, we are left with ‘disbelief’, ‘doubt’, ‘uncertainty’ and ‘distrust’ of this product.

We’ve got a feeling this won’t be the last we hear about Iceland red grouse this year…..

Iceland 8 - Copy

Iceland 6 - Copy

Iceland 5 - Copy

Iceland 2 - Copy


15 Responses to “Iceland: “Food you can trust”?”

  1. 1 Peter Shearer
    September 22, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Yes I too sent many e mails which produced no response.Can we invade their facebook page with the questions? Their customers are entitled to be informed.

  2. 3 Douglas Malpus
    September 22, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    I never received an answer or even an acknowledgement from my previous email to them about the grouse issue. Clearly customers are not considered too highly.

  3. 4 sallygutteridge
    September 22, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    I hate seeing these broken little bodies sold like property. Humans are so warped that they think they are the only species entitled to life and freedom. Horrible.

    • 5 Marian
      September 22, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      I very much agree, Sally.

      Like Douglas, I had no reply to my email to the CEO.

      I checked in my local branch (Heswall, Wirral) and couldn’t find grouse on sale. Have just telephoned to confirm.
      They said no, apologetically. I said ‘good, at least that species is spared here’.

  4. 6 steve moyes
    September 22, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    No reply for me either. Had a look in our local store but did not see any on sale.

  5. 7 Rob Sheldon
    September 22, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    It seems the purveyors of grouse as food are not prepared to respond to any enquiries about sustainability issues around grouse. Even more worrying is how so few (if any) are concerned about the lead content in grouse and the subsequent meals that they serve.
    I too emailed Iceland with no response, and tried several times via Twitter with similar lack of response. Rare Bird Alert have been Tweeting a lot about restaurants who stock grouse and they largely ignore. And a friend of mine was blocked by TasteOfGame on Twitter for regularly responding to Tweets with a request that they mentioned lead to customers etc.
    You would think they have something to hide? Or maybe they are just embarrassed? Or maybe they don’t care about the consumer?

    • September 22, 2015 at 7:11 pm

      It’s fascinating, isn’t it, that Iceland will go to great lengths to demonstrate their beefburgers no longer contain horse, backed up with evidence of testing etc, but as soon as you mention red grouse and Pb, sustainability, ethical sourcing etc, they shut up pretty fast?

  6. 9 Marco McGinty
    September 22, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    I had a brief look at the Kezie Foods website, and clicked on their “Origins of our Food” link, and discovered an oxymoron of monumental proportions;

    “Our wide and varied range of award winning exotic meats, game and seafood come from all over the world and are carefully sourced from ranches and suppliers who actively participate in environmental programmes, from culls in game farms to breeding programmes, thus helping to maintain the natural wildlife population levels. It is important to assure you that wherever our meats and fish are sourced from they are offered with an understanding of their environmental and welfare implications.”

    How can culls on game farms maintain a natural wildlife population level?

    Archived for authenticity https://archive.is/kEMe1

    So, as Kezie Foods also claim to have carried out meticulous research into their sources, ad they claim that they have real concerns about wildlife conservation, should we now air our questions to them?

  7. September 23, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Buy some and give them to food standards students to do the lead tests. We need a specific investigation, published in a peer reviewed journal. Something that the politically controlled FSA cant bury or ignore. Consumers Association, Which?

    The study should also look into the handling practices in the production chain. (when do you ever see chicken for sale that has been “carried in a dogs mouth”),

    I dont mind if the shooters poison themselves, but lets get this dirty little product condemned for public sale.

  8. 11 Peter Shearer
    September 23, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    I am bombarding Iceland facebook page to try and annoy them.Can a few more people help me-see who gets fed up first!

  9. September 25, 2015 at 6:40 am

    Insane to read on the back of the pack “may contain lead shot” ! So, perhaps Kezie should change the text on the pack to state that this dubiously sourced over-subsidised target for the blood-soaked lairds and congenital twits of this land “may cause mild lead poisoning” !

  10. 13 crypticmirror
    September 28, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    I’m not sure that Iceland’s demographic are big grouse eaters.

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