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Traditional Farmhouse, Natural Artisan

Jane Russell
Jane Russell

There is no doubt about it: some words can quickly become overused or misused.  Especially if they convey something attractive, and marketers get their hands on them! Take “artisan” for example. Many of you reading this will be quite fed up with this term and feel that it has been used so often that it has become meaningless.  Artisan, Farmhouse, Traditional, Natural: all terms that are used to market food products because they imply something wholesome and good about the product. But because there has been no agreed definition of the terms, they can be used indiscriminately to mislead the consumer.

So a recent Guidance Note from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland on “The Use of Food Marketing Terms” is certainly to be welcomed. 

 It lays down four criteria for a product to be described as artisan:

1. The food is made in limited quantities by skilled craftspeople

2. The processing method is not fully mechanised and follows a traditional method

3. The food is made in a micro-enterprise at a single location

4. The characteristic ingredient(s) used in the food are grown or produced locally, where seasonally available and practical

As someone who works with many small-scale Irish producers, I think that’s a very fair definition. As a business we use the word “artisan” frequently because, even though some of you may be growing tired of it, I believe it still best describes many of our suppliers, and their products.

With the above definition published (even though the “Guidance” does not become effective until December 2016), we can hope that the term “artisan”, and other terms defined in the Note, will be used more honestly by others in the future.

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