The vast majority of gourmet salt from a high profile Hebridean artisan producer
is actually imported, according to a consumer watchdog.
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) said 80% of Hebridean Sea Salt’s product was bought
in from elsewhere.
The authority said customers had been "deceived.”
The company, based in Habost, Pairc, claimed to make a truly Hebridean product from
seawater sourced in Loch Erisort.
“Our sea salt is hand harvested creating pure, white crunchy sea salt flakes that
melt in the mouth,” ran the marketing promise.
But their premises were raided and her products seized by investigators acting on
a tip-off from a former employee.
Today, the FSS issued a statement about the issue after owner Natalie Crayton claimed
her business was forced to close amid the probe by the Comhairle and Food Standards
A FSS spokeswoman said: “This is not simply a case of mis-labelling.
“Investigations discovered that over 80% of the salt found in Hebridean Sea Salt
did not originate in the Hebrides, but was imported table salt.
“It is Food Standards Scotland’s view that, whilst this is not a food safety issue,
deception of consumers on this scale is not acceptable and could damage Scotland’s
well-deserved reputation for high quality, authentic food and drink products. “
The product was positioned as a premium Scottish food product stocked in almost 150
independent Scottish outlets, including top department store Jenners and used by
some of Scotland’s leading chefs.
Business owner, Natalie Crayton, does not appear to wish to make any comment on the
investigation findings. A social media page she uses closed down this afternoon.
Earlier this week, she said they add additional sea salt to its products but only
in line with common industry practice.
Ms Crayton said: “We do, do this. This is an industry practice and is carried out
by other UK sea salt manufacturers including the market leader.
“We have not hidden this and the addition of sea salt is clearly documented in our
food safety documentation.”
Western Isles Council’s “heavy handed” approach“ resulted in the closure of our business
causing us extreme financial difficulties,” she added.
The comhairle is the lead in the investigation and Food Standards Scotland (FSS)
has a supporting role.