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Smart Consumer: Want to buy Irish? Then go look at the logos. . .

Want to buy Irish to help our stuttering economy? If the answer is yes, then you're in good company: according to a Bord Bia survey, 62% of people would like to support home-grown brands.

But the problem shoppers face in the quest to buy Irish is that the country of origin is not always indicated on the label.

This is no doubt because under current EU food-labelling laws, it is only mandatory to include country of origin on a handful of products.

These include raw beef and veal, raw poultry meat from a third country, fruit and veg and honey. And that's it.

However, if a product is named Irish jam, for example, but is not made in Ireland at all, that could clearly mislead us all. So in an instance like that, the country of origin has to be shown as well.

Things get even trickier when you are dealing with a product that has undergone "substantive transformation".

Take your chicken korma ready meal: the chicken may have come from half-way around the world but was processed into a korma meal in Ireland and may have been packaged here as well. A substantive transformation has now taken place and the meal can be labelled a product of Ireland.

Stricter EU food labelling laws are on the way, but in the meantime there are plenty of logos to look out for that can help you choose.

1 Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme

These logos cover meat, fruit and veg, eggs and also pre-packed meals where the meat content is less than 90%. The logos cover Ireland-only origin, Northern Ireland origin and a mixture of the two. These marks are about more than country of origin, though; they also assure quality in terms of traceability, animal welfare, the safe use of medicines, chemicals and more.

2 National Dairy Council

This logo is for milk and cream products that are farmed and processed in Ireland. The intention is to extend this mark to other dairy products in the future.

3 Love Irish Food

Covering food products only, this logo's criteria are that 80% of the brand's revenue must be derived from an Irish manufacturing process.

4 Guaranteed Irish

Established in 1975, but in a non-profit independent guise since 1984, this logo covers 1,000 food products, goods and services.

5 Thinkirish.ie

An online directory of Irish food and non-food products, this site aims to inform people as to what products are Irish, so that Irish jobs can be supported. Brands qualify if 80% of the total cost of production is incurred in Ireland.

For further information on the logos: www.bordbia.ie www.ndc.ie www.loveirishfood.ie www.guaranteedirish.ie www.thinkirish.ie

Irish Independent