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Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

NOT Free Range? Can "Gü" Believe It?

I went along to a focus group hosted by Britain's favourite chocolate pud maker, Gü. Perceived by most Brits as somewhat of a luxury brand, Gü offer a range of over 20 choccy-packed products as well as their fruit range Frü, which carries approximately 7 different products. That's a pretty hefty market presence, no? A brand that has become so popular, that has captivated the nation solely through word-of-mouth, a few adverts in foodie magazines and just a single tv commercial... A brand that is the front-runner when it comes to providing ready to eat and partially-ready chocolate desserts to a nation of grateful chocolate lovers and lazy pud-eaters.
Shocked? Yes, I was too. The focus group was actually fun until this point in the evening. I cannot believe that our hard earned pounds still don't seem to be enough to secure us free-range eggs and even worse, there is nothing to tell you on ANY of their packaging that you are, essentially, consuming eggs from battery hens! Now I know lots of people may not care about this, but let me just remind you of just SOME of the conditions that battery hens live in;

- No natural daylight most of the time
- Hens kept in ridiculously overcrowded pens
- Often, dead hens go unnoticed and can remain amongst healthy hens for days
- Without free range, hens get no space to roam free & remain stressed most of the time, unhealthy and often injured/sick until they die
- Quality of eggs can be affected if the hens that produce your eggs are mixed in with other sick/dead hens

IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT TO EAT? Or even worse, what you are happy to feed to your kids? At the very least, we should be made aware that Gü does not contain free-range eggs and then (and only then) can you make an informed decision about whether or not you are happy with the ingredients of what you feed yourself and family. For the hefty price tags that we pay, we should be getting top quality ingredients throughout, good chocolate alone is not enough! One reason I was given for their inability to use free-range eggs was "Well we tried using it for our chocolate souffle, but the free-range egg wouldn't rise!" Um, hello? Ever tried adjusting the volume of baking powder? If every other cook on the planet (including myself) can make the same thing using free-range eggs, then there is no excuse!

What are you thoughts on this subject? I am curious to know what people think and whether you are shocked about this information? All invited guests in the focus group were definitely shocked about it!



  1. Hi Sabrina
    interesting information, thanks for sharing. You might also want to check out the lifestyles of other animals too, if you are at all concerned about the welfare of animals. After all, it seems pretty bizarre to be concerned about one animal, but not others, doesn't it?
    See http://www.viva.org.uk/books/goingveggie/sec01.html

  2. That's disgusting. Gu is not exactly cheap so one should expect high quality ingredients (and I don't mean just the chocolate).

  3. I stopped buying them after being unable to get confirmation that all the range was using free-range eggs. Same goes for Heinz salad cream - another brand leader who still use battery eggs.

  4. Great post! I've never tired this before.

  5. Thanks for sharing this Sabrina, I wasn't aware of this. A nasty surprise given their premium positioning, but not totally unexpected given they (at the end of the day) come across more corporate than artisan.

    I've shared this on my Facebook wall, keen to see what friends in London think and maybe we can get a groundup request for change going


  6. I have never tried the products that they sell. Perhaps public pressure will change the unhappy tale. I hope the day treats you well. Blessings...Mary

  7. Gosh, it makes me so happy to think so many of us feel the same... It's not just about treating animals with respect, but for me it's mainly about having the right information available for you to make informed decisions about what you eat! Poor quality ingredients as high prices are not right and don't represent value for what we are paying, in addition to the obvious social consciousness issues! Thank you guys! Maybe we should start a petition? WHO IS IN?

  8. I agree with you, unfortunately nearly all of us are too often unaware of the origins of our food, because it is not the thing which has the highest priority for us. I am thinking about my own reaction when I read first about KitKat and the palmoil and the consequences for the environment!

  9. See? If I knew more about KitKat (for example) I would probably not eat it! At least they should get us to the point where we have the information at our fingertips and we can only hope that some people may make the right choices. McDonald's are incredibly transparent about what they use, all because of one documentary and the nation taking a stand. "United we stand, divided we fall." Just a thought, I guess?

  10. Hi Sabrina,

    I don't think I would be shocked as such. That would just be like buying chicken in a restaurant that didn't claim to be free range and then being shocked it IS NOT free range (sadly, I just have had to stop eating chicken in most places). All you can really do is try andd support the places that make a point of trying to use free range eggs- Hellmans, Waitrose, M&S and by all means keep the pressure up on companies like GU that you would like to use. That reaction, at a focus group, will have helped, I'm sure!

  11. Hi Rosie, you are so right and just like you I really struggle to eat chicken unless I have selected a nice free range one myself and cooked it myself. I think you are right about supporting the supermarkets, so I have decided to write to Waitrose and urge them to put pressure on Gu to start using free-range eggs! Because Waitrose carry a lot of Gu's products, so I guess that's what I have to do! All help welcome!

  12. I am shocked. I am guessing that many of us know the PR company that looks after Gü too.

    I will e-mail Waitrose now. Pizza Express are another offender with free range eggs, but not free range chicken on their pizzas.

    There is no excuse, and anyone that thinks that there is needs to look at the virtual battery cagee.

    Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  13. Helen! That makes me so happy! Thank you for letting me know!!! And I was just as shocked as you, as with Gu it just wasnt something I expected! I have boycotted their products until they make a change! Thank you for the link to that site! I will be having a look now and sharing it with as many people as possible. Let's keep each other posted about what we do! If enough of us campaign against it, we can make that change! Jamie Oliver did and he is just one man!!!

  14. Sabrina,

    I think you'll be astounded to learn an interesting fact about GU. In January 2010 another food company bought a majority steak in GU, valuing GU at between £30 and £35 million.
    Who is the company that bought the majority stake? Nobel Foods. What does Nobel Foods specialise in? Eggs. Noble Foods is the largest supplier of eggs and egg products in the UK (http://www.noblefoods.co.uk).
    Nobel Foods describes itself as "the progressive face of the UK egg industry".
    GU puddings are stocked in around 3,000 stores in the UK. As sure as eggs is eggs, GU will not be using shell eggs in their products (just think of how many eggs they'd need to crack for their chocolate mousse alone!). GU will be using liquid pasteurised egg (eggs that come from chickens yes, but eggs that have been heat-treated and that are supplied in a bottle, or more likely, a tanker).
    While using (liquid) pasteurised egg is a requirement from consumer health point of view, pasteurised egg of the free-range variety is available. It is more expensive than battery pasteurised egg, but GU and Nobel Foods will be able to benefit from economies of scale. You could argue, therefore, that there's no excuse for Noble-GU not to use free-range pasteurised egg in their puddings.
    It doesn't seem that much to ask for a product positioned as "ultra-premium".
    Incidentally, Nobel Foods also owns the Serious Food Company, another premium dessert manufacturer (http://www.seriousdesserts.co.uk/about_us.html).
    As well as lobbying GU's customers, it's surely a good idea to write to Nobel Foods as well.
    Good luck!

  15. Oh "Anonymous" if only you would get in touch with me via email! I have been battling with Gu for a whole week and they point blank refuse to tell me what eggs they use. They did tell me about Noble owning them, which in my opinion gives even more of a reason to use free-range eggs! They now want me to meet their Managing Director for a chat!!!

  16. Sabrina,

    Just emailed you!

  17. Meet their Managing Director? Wow they must have realised they cannot just brush this topic off lightly! Good luck, Sabrina, and keep up the good work!

  18. Thanks for raising this issue. I am shocked. It seems the company is deliberately misleading the public. The Gu brand and battery hens do not go together. I will stop buying their products.

  19. That is fantastic! Thank you! And feel free to email them your thoughts!

    Laura Bowyer - Customer Care Manager at Gü Chocolate Puds
    E-mail: laurab@gupuds.com / Tel: 020 7605 0064

  20. Unfortunately like most things in the food trade - the bottom line is generally cost.