Product transparency: it’s going to be a big topic in 2012. That’s the prediction I want to put forward to join our other industry players’ forecasts that you can read in the January issue of Caterer Middle East.
Of course, it should have been a big topic a few years ago, but as product advertisement legislation in the Middle East lags behind other countries in its commitment to enforce honest portrayals on labels of products, it’s a relief that it’s finally here at all.
As we step into the new year, the Lebanon government starts work on organic certification regulation with the support of new legislation that will allow it to have stricter controls over what is and isn’t classed as ‘organic’.
After visiting the Middle East Natural and Organic Products Expo 2011 and looking on aghast at how many energy drinks, protein skakes and cosmetic products came under the ‘natural’ umbrella, it’s a relief to know that finally wheels are being put in motion.
But while some countries are making it easier to gauge what we’re eating, are others taking it too far? As Saudi Arabia’s Consumer Protection Society calls for a calorie count to be put on every dish of every restaurant menu, are they in danger of taking the pleasure out of dining? At the end of the day, it comes down to responsibility of producers and of F&B managers.
If you’re advertising a healthy meal, make sure it is just that – and be ready to be questioned by a wised-up diner if it’s not. If you’re saying a product is fresh, make sure that not one of its ingredients have been defrosted earlier that day.
And if you’re labeling something as organic or natural, every part of its production cycle needs to be organic or natural too. You still can be creative in the way you market products, but make sure you don’t deceive the diner because these days, they won’t be fooled for long!