The National Sheep Association (NSA) is calling on leading supermarkets and stakeholders to be very clear with their food commentary, and is highlighting the risk that misleading messages poses to the UK livestock sector.

The message comes in response to recent promotional literature from leading UK supermarkets. Waitrose, the NSA said, has suggested that consumers can reduce their carbon footprint by eating pork rather than lamb and Sainsburys, the organisation said, is encouraging customers to slowly switch out high-quality British red meat by replacing it with lentils.

The NSA have said that these types of messages can create confusion, undermining the public understanding of sustainable food production systems employed in the UK.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said:

“People are being bombarded with all sorts of messaging about how diets can help combat climate change and there is no doubt that the data being used to substantiate these messages is flawed.

“It’s not full life cycle, it’s not holistic in its structure, and as the National Food Strategy report points out, the overseas part of the carbon footprint often isn’t taken into account.

It is completely misleading not to reflect the true picture, we must be considering broader sustainability metrics.

“Ensuring food and farming plays its part in climate change through diets and farming practices is right and proper - but we absolutely need to make sure that people are making properly informed decisions with more accurate data, and we also need all our industries to play their part.

“Agriculture and food can be part of the solution, but it mustn’t be the scapegoat,” he concluded.