Trading standards investigating claim red grouse are “organic”

A few days ago we blogged about an extraordinary claim that red grouse are “organic” (see here).

The claim was made by chef Andrew Fairlie, who runs the Michelin-starred Andrew Fairlie Restaurant at Gleneagles Hotel. His claim was widely published in Scottish newspapers and also promoted on the Gift of Grouse website.

We did a quick bit of research and couldn’t find any evidence of any grouse moors in Angus, East Lothian or Deeside being registered / certified as “organic” (these are the geographic areas from where Mr Fairlie’s grouse are sourced).

Indeed, given the associated environmental damage of intensive grouse moor management, its strong link to wildlife crime (especially raptor persecution) and the high level of poisonous lead shot, worming drugs and pesticides that may be inside the bird, we’d argue that red grouse are about as far away from being organic as it’s possible to be.

It is an offence to call a food product “organic” if it hasn’t been inspected and certified by one of the UK’s nine control authorities. We would expect a Michelin-starred chef, in whom the public place great trust, to understand the implications of describing a food product as “organic”.

Many blog readers contacted Andrew Fairlie, the Gift of Grouse, and Ochil Foods (Mr Fairlie’s game supplier) to ask for evidence of the organic certification of the red grouse being served at the Andrew Fairlie Restaurant. As far as we’re aware, no responses have been received.

A report has now been submitted to Trading Standards Scotland, who have confirmed that an investigation has been launched.

UPDATE 7 July 2017: Gift of Grouse chef told to refrain from calling red grouse “organic” (see here)


26 Responses to “Trading standards investigating claim red grouse are “organic””

  1. July 6, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Much egg [ organic or otherwise ] on face !

    Keep up the pressure !

  2. July 6, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    I sent an email to all three and confirm that I haven’t received any replies – not unsurprisingly. Keep up the good detective work.

  3. 3 Secret Squirrel
    July 6, 2017 at 1:03 pm


    Sorry RPUK, but sounds fishy. TSS only manages the investigations of scams and illegal money lending and co-ordinates national projects, they don’t investigate individual complaints like that, Secondly and more importantly, in Scotland, Food Standards enforcement, which descriptions would form part of, come under Environmental Health remit (with oversight from Food Standards Scotland)

    • July 6, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      Hi Secret Squirrel,

      Nothing fishy at all. We’ve got the email confirming an investigation has been launched.

    • 5 Andrew
      July 6, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      Trading Standards also investigate the sale of counterfeit goods. Trying to sell something on the basis it is organic when it is not sounds pretty close to me.

    • 6 Mike
      July 6, 2017 at 6:44 pm

      Unless it’s changed in the last year, Trading Standards depts do investigate individual complaints. Issues which have a regional impact are dealt with by regional teams. Illegal money lending is (used to be) dealt with by a national team.

      • 7 Secret Squirrel
        July 7, 2017 at 10:46 am

        TS Depts do, TSS doesn’t. I suspect RPUK got a holding email and it will be passed to the local TSD. Food is specifically NOT done by TS is Scotland, but there has always been a bit of a fudge where legislation doesn’t specifically exclude Food

        I suppose It could be taken as a breach of Reg 5 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Commercial Practices – also under S15(2) of Food Safety Act, but I suspect you’d have to prove a press release was an advert.

        ASA and IPSO might be worth a complaint though.

        (and yes, i do have some experience in this sector! :-) )

  4. 10 Henry Swardle
    July 6, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    This maybe of interest? (Organic status checker) https://www.bioc.info/index.php?id=6&L=1&country=GB

  5. July 6, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Does anyone have knowledge of test results on “over the counter” grouse ?

  6. 16 lizzybusy
    July 6, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Brilliant! Well done. No replies yet to my emails.

    • 17 lizzybusy
      July 6, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      Maybe a press release about this might get somewhere. Mr Fairlie doesn’t have the clout with the press of some of the rich list shooting estates owners so this might get coverage – especially since he got coverage in the first place. Fingers crossed!

      • 18 J .Coogan
        July 6, 2017 at 4:09 pm

        This is problem they are just shutting down until it all blows over without anyone , except us a pretty small insular group, finding out .I was telling my sister in law about this they often dine at Fairlies restaurant ( more money than sense ) and she had never heard of it and simply refused to believe it .I know I keep chuntering on about this but we can tut tut and wring our hand as much as we like but message re. the unbelievable things they are getting away with needs to be put out there to have any real effect.

        • 19 Northern Diver
          July 6, 2017 at 6:27 pm

          Send her a few of the pictures from Mark Avery’s blog showing all the lead fragments.

        • 20 Mike Haden
          July 6, 2017 at 7:44 pm

          This is interesting. Last year as a special all treat we went to the Art School in Liverpool ( not Michelin star but posh and expensive). On the menu was pheasant. After the meal the chef comes to talk to to you, so I commented on the fact he had game on the menu and the association with raptor persecution. To which immediately said that’s why they don’t serve grouse and the pheasant is from the Rhug Estate in Wales, and commented on the provenance and envying on the menu must have provenance etc. Now I don’t know about how the Rhug Estate operates but it was refreshing that a high end restaurant is knowledgable about our concerns (perhaps that’s why he’s not got a Michelin star).

        • 21 Iain Gibson
          July 6, 2017 at 10:37 pm

          J.Coogan makes a fair point which other commenters also make from time to time. The lack of any mainstream publicity over many of the issues raised on this blog is surprising. Does RPUK or anyone else distribute press releases? I’d have thought that with some dogged persistence and smart investigating (as clearly demonstrated on this blog), the word could be spread far more widely. BASC, GWCT et al seem to have got their act together, and their lies occur frequently as promoted by the media, including the BBC who weirdly justify it by claiming impartiality.

  7. 22 Gerard
    July 6, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    They are holding their breath, hoping that any fallout will be minimal until the law is re-written in their favour after break up with EU. I got no reply either.

  8. July 6, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    I got no reply either even though I drafted my emails along the line of “I would be very interested in sourcing red grouse this season provided that I could be certain that they had been certified as organic …..”, and could they please tell me which estates ….. etc..

    Will be very interested to see how far this “investigation” runs.

  9. 25 PTH
    July 7, 2017 at 7:57 am

    Seems that the chef finds himself in the organic do do for [Ed: allegedly] making blatant false claims. Only himself to blame, keep up the brilliant work RPUK.

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