Hebridean Sea Salt company folds after "deception" probe

A company based on the Isle of Lewis is accused of duping the public by passing off table salt as high-value sea salt, according to Food Standards Scotland.

An investigation found that the company – Hebridean Sea Salt – suggests that this is "not simply a case of mis-labelling", according to Food Standards Scotland, which said it had been discovered that "over 80 per cent of the salt found in Hebridean Sea Salt did not originate in the Hebrides, but was imported table salt."

The probe was led by Western Isles Council, and while FSS said it does not normally comment on investigations it issued a statement in response to the media attention generated by the case.

"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," it said.

The Hebridean Sea Salt company's website has now been taken offline, but previously claimed that the product it sold was "hand harvested pure white sea salt flakes", with some variants peat-smoked or infused with "sustainably collected seaweed."

"Our sea salt is hand harvested creating pure, white crunchy sea salt flakes that melt in the mouth," it claimed. "Our salt tastes fantastic and we hope you enjoy using it!"

Hebridean Sea Salt's owner Natalie Crayton (35) told The Herald newspaper that the business had to close because of unnecessary and extremely heavy-handed actions taken by Western Isles Council officers on behalf of FSS.

Crayton claims the imported salt was "pure food-grade sea salt with no additives" which was added to sea water during the drying process to increase yields – something that is common practice among producers of high-end sea salt.

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