Organic labelling at Fairprice still misleadingMarch 12, 2007
Some time back, I wrote about Fairprice Xtra hypermarket at Ang Mo Kio changing its misleading “Organic” signboard at its vegetables section to “Specialty Vegetables”.
I wrote then that Fairprice did the right thing to avoid misleading shoppers, but it seems that their staff still don’t know or don’t care about the difference between organic and non-organic, between natural and unnatural.
So I thought it was time to raise the issue in the press rather than just gently informing the staff. Below is my letter on the subject, published today in The Straits Times Forum:
WHEN FairPrice Xtra hypermarket opened in Ang Mo Kio, it had a big sign in the vegetable section that said ‘Organic’.
However, only about one-quarter of the fruit and vegetables there are organic. The rest include conventional vegetables, presumably grown with chemical fertilisers, as well as hydroponic and aeroponic vegetables grown in water and air respectively.
Twice I pointed out to staff that the sign was misleading, because hydroponic and aeroponic vegetables are grown in unnatural ways, using chemical solutions or sprays as fertilisers.
On my third visit, the sign had been changed to ‘Speciality Vegetables’.
I thought FairPrice had done the right thing, but closer examination revealed it had not. Beneath the sign were smaller labels classifying vegetables as ‘organic’, as well as ‘salad’, ‘mushrooms’ and ‘tomatoes’. Under the ‘organic’ section, there were still hydroponic and aeroponic vegetables.
Why not label hydroponic and aeroponic vegetables accordingly? Is it because they have no selling point, unlike ‘organic’?
Meanwhile, one brand of aeroponic vegetables, which is claimed to be air flown from Europe and packed in Singapore, is described as ‘grown naturally in air’.
Will the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) clarify whether food labelling laws allow aeroponic or hydroponic vegetables to be described as ‘natural’ or ‘grown naturally ‘?