It all started with a phone call to the Bertocchi Smallgoods Company in Melbourne, Australia on a Saturday morning.
I had woken up with a violent headache and since I am extremely allergic to Monosodium Glutamate (MSG or Flavour Enhancer 621) I began to wonder if the Mortadella I had been enjoying could possibly contain MSG. I had been getting ill for a while and so began to suspect it was something I was eating.
Could it be Mortadella? I had better ask the manufacturer.
When I phoned I was reassured by the staff on duty at Bertocchi that the Mortadella was safe.
So I took their word for it. After all, they should know what’s in their products.
Later that day I was at Woolworths and thought I would confirm what I had been told.
Shock, horror! The Mortadellla had MSG in it. It said so on the packaging that was usually removed when you ordered slices of it from the Deli section.
Woolworths even gave me the price tag with the ingredients on it.
Anyone who is allergic to an ingredient would understand how stunned I felt and how disappointed I was in Bertocchi’s flagrant disregard for a customer’s well-being.
So I returned the original product to Woolworths, told them what had happened to me and the manager of the store was as stunned as I was. She refunded the money, gave me other smallgoods which were MSG-free and said she would follow it up.
Meanwhile I spoke to Bertocchi again to ask why they had lied to me.
Now this is what I was told by the Operations Manager at Bertocchi. She is the one who definitely knows what is in the product.
Apparently, there is no MSG in the Mortadella but the information on the outside packaging or casing, she called it, is old and out of date. Bertocchi are trying to use up old casing that they had left over and that is why the actual ingredients on the outside are wrong!
“Are you telling me that the information about the ingredients is wrong?” I asked.
“Yes, but that’s because we are using old casing. The Mortadella is still good and you don’t eat the casing anyway,” she said.
I found it hard to believe that this person, let’s call her “Margaret”, was actually reassuring me that the stuff was okay even though the labelling and the casing were wrong.
I asked. “But how can I believe you if you admit you are trying to use up some of your old stuff? Isn’t correct labelling a legal health issue?”
The reply was quirky. “You know if you are so allergic to MSG then you should ask what’s in the Mortadella”, the Bertocchi Operations Manager suggested.
“Isn’t that just what I am doing. Asking you?”
Margaret thinks for a few seconds and then answers. “I guess you are”.
What more could I add to her ridiculous suggestion.
But I said plenty to the Woolworths Manager who said she would report this further exchange to Head Office.
I will be contacted by Woolworths Head Office sometime soon after they investigate why Bertocchi are misrepresenting their products.
Meanwhile, I am avoiding any Bertocchi Smallgoods. If you can’t trust the labelling and you can’t trust the explanation which does not ring true, then don’t risk it.
Friday- phone call from Woolworths’ Manager in charge of Deli all over Australia, Mr Scott Wing:-
Had a good talk with Scott Wing who wanted to hear from me directly what happened with Bertocchi. He was very supportive of me and expressed the view that Bertocchi missed an opportunity to handle a customer query in a proper manner. He also said that using old casing with misleading information was wrong and that Bertocchi will fix the problem.
He assured me that Bertocchi’s Mortadella had no MSG in it and that Woolworths had tested this out themselves.
I appreciated the way that Woolworths and Mr Wing handled the situation. Pity that Bertocchi management did not do likewise.