At the Scottish Association of Master Bakers conference, which took place over the May Bank Holiday weekend, Stanley Smith, convenor of the SAMB technical committee, told delegates that pressures in the industry had changed in 2007 from being legislation-based to being supermarket- and industry-led.
Smith cited nine different methods of labelling compliance, published by the Scottish FSA, including traffic lights. That was "too many", he said.
Meanwhile, supermarkets were pressing for more salt reductions while a big initiative by the Scottish Department of Health meant that all schools will be subject to a complete review of health.
Schools, children and food scientists will all examine the school diet and it is likely to result in a change in food law, with the support of the Scottish Executive (cabinet) and the Scottish FSA, he said.
While the origin of meats had come under scrutiny, it now looks likely that the origin of fish will follow the same path. Both may have to be labelled with proposed ’country of origin’ legislation.
Past president Ian Terris, of Wm Stephens bakery, said there was more and more legislation coming from the EU on packaging and labelling. He asked if there was any impending legislation on restricting packaging?
At the moment, none is evident in the UK, but Alan Stuart, of Stuart’s of Buckhaven, commen-ted that Germany had passed a law stating that dumping bins had to be at the doors of all supermarkets so customers could dispose of any excess packaging.
George Stevenson of Mathiesons asked how the SAMB could obtain more clout in dealing with the EU government. Kirk Hunter, chief executive of the SAMB, replied that the SAMB, the SNP and the new Scottish Executive wanted to strengthen direct links with the EU and would be working actively with other Scottish associations so that there was one united voice.
The latest increase in the minimum wage next October will be limited to 3.2%. As differentials had been narrowed, there would only be three grades in future. There will be summer discussions with the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) and wage negotiations will follow.
A questionnaire will be sent out shortly to members on the working agreement.
Over the year the SAMB said it had seen a growth in employment law questions from members.
Particular attention had been paid to advising members about new age discrimination laws.
The membership expressed its thanks for the "expertise of law advisor Fay Sommerville" particularly over the age discrimi- nation legislation, which, they noted, could have profound implications for the industry.
l More news from the SAMB conference next week