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You may remember I wrote to the BBC complaining about an episode of the Food Factory which covered pet food and that they subsequently responded with a pretty generic response which I then submitted a follow up complaint to.

For the correspondence to date:

Last night I received a follow up response from the BBC, I have to say whilst I might not like it and it hasn’t addressed everything I raised it’s a good deal better than the first one.  I haven’t decided whether I want to reply again or not at this point, I think it’s likely I will as I can’t really let the comment about commercial food and healthy pets just go. I’m also a bit annoyed that they have completely ignored direct questions I raised.  If you have any views you think should be highlighted if I do respond please comment on the blog or on facebook.  I can’t promise to add everything in as the complaints procedure limits the number of words I can submit.

Dear Miss Marsh

I am writing in response to your emails about episode 5 of Food Factory – ‘Ready-Made’.

Having reviewed the correspondence on this matter I’m sorry that the initial response didn’t fully address your concerns. I discussed your complaint about Food Factory with the Executive Producer and would like to explain our view of the programme in relation to the concerns you raised.

The purpose of the item you contacted us about was to illustrate that ready prepared food is not only convenient for human consumption but that we rely on it for our pets too. The comparison was to show the difference in the ready-made pet food when compared to the ready-made human food we had just reported on. As you will have noted, the item concluded that ready-made dog food can contain pretty much all a dog requires and that the necessary requirements for a healthy pet can easily added to their food without detracting from their basic needs, whereas this is generally not the case for human convenience food.

The pet food segment was a brief two and a half minutes and rather than an in-depth study of pet food products it was intended as a simple way to demonstrate the differences. It was outside the scope of the series to examine the nutritional requirements of humans or any other mammal (or animal) or to engage in an examination of the business practises of the food industry.

With regard to Crown Pet Foods, the item did not give undue prominence to Crown and we did not mention any of the brand names they market this food under, either in the commentary or on-screen. We were also careful to avoid any readily identifiable shots of the packaging. Unless viewers already knew the brands associated with Crown they would not have been able to identify them from watching this programme.

This is the approach we took for all food companies throughout the series. Our approach (in line with the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines) was a single reference in commentary to the name of the company – always associated with the company representative interviewed. This is to give the viewer information and context about which organisation they are hearing about.

To give another example from another episode in the series, when Food Factory reported on the science of making bubbles in chocolate we referred to the manufacturer Cadbury’s but did not name or identify the brand of the chocolate bar being produced.

We understand your interest and concerns about the wider issues of multinational food ownership and production but these are far outside the scope of this series. Food Factory is intended to show an early evening family audience how science can be applied to the production of something we are all familiar with – in this instance food. The series does not take an editorial position on any of the products described – whether discussing analogue cheese, breakfast cereals or dog food. There is controversy associated with all these foods, but engaging in an examination of the widely differing views on them was not our purpose.

I hope my response goes some way to explaining our approach to the report and to Food Factory in general. We’re grateful for your feedback and suggestions and this has been passed on and distributed among the team and the wider BBC.

Best wishes,
Paul Kettle
BBC Audience Services”

By the way it’s hot in the UK today, Ted says keep your pooches in the shade and definitely don’t leave them in the car, not even for a second!

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