Whilst washing up the other day I noticed that the cheeseboard had a label on the back – presumably to provide cleaning instructions. I was close, what it actually had on it were ‘Care Suggestions’. Suggestions? It ‘suggested’ that the board be washed in warm soapy water and left to dry – excuse me, but what do they think I might like to do with it instead, put it in the washing machine and then give it a spin in the tumble dryer? Honestly, it appears that manufacturers no longer provide instructions; they only suggest what you might like to do to their merchandise.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, a packet of tortellini bought shortly afterward had ‘Cooking Suggestions’ on the packaging. I’ve heard of being cautious, but this is absolutely ridiculous. They suggest that you simmer them for two minutes in boiling water, but of course if you follow this suggestion and then end up with food poisoning because they’re undercooked then the company isn’t liable because they only ‘suggested’ a cooking time.
What’s next, raw joints of meat labelled with ‘we suggest you cook this product’? Are we going to reach a point where the little green man no longer tells us to cross the street, but merely advises us that it might be safe but that we cross at our own risk?
It’s a clever trick, it absolves the manufacturer of all responsibility – when you buy a product it’s now assumed that you know what you’re doing with it, so it’s up to you if you choose to follow the ‘suggestions’ on the back. What if the goods are faulty and you suffer as a result of that and not from following their suggestions (or not, as the case may be)? Will they get away with ‘suggesting’ that it was the consumer’s fault that something went wrong, rather than simply a dodgy pasta or sub-standard cheese board?
If my cheeseboard splits down the middle can I write back to the manufacturer and say that it’s their fault because making that product from wood was only the ‘suggestion’ of a designer?
Here’s a suggestion for all those smart marketing people out there, if you want me to spend my hard-earned money on your products then stop trying to cover your arses with cute little phrases and start providing real instructions again. I’m not asking you to carve them in stone, just put them on the labels so that those of us who approach cooking with trepidation and fear can prepare something to eat without undue stress.
Now where’s that pizza delivery leaflet?…