Bertocchi Bertocchi! How can you trust this smallgoods company?

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there is no MSG in the Mortadella but the information on the outside packaging or casing, she called it, is old and out of date.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.


13 thoughts on “Bertocchi Bertocchi! How can you trust this smallgoods company?

  1. So if there was no MSG and they told you there was no MSG then what’s the problem? If anything, the old packaging was being overly cautious. It would only be a serious misrepresentation if they said there wasn’t MSG when there was.

    And “Margaret” was right – if your allergy is so severe, then why don’t you ask at the time you buy it, or at the very least BEFORE YOU EAT IT? You sound like you have no common sense whatsoever.

    Talk about a drama queen.


    • Hi Sarabi?

      I appreciate your taking the time to respond to my complaint about Bertocchi’s use of old casing holding its meat products together. As you no doubt know, Sarabi, casing is supposed to inform you of the contents and the casing did say there was MSG in the product.

      Bertocchi explained to me that they were trying to get rid of the old casing and that’s how the wrong information was placed there.

      The point is that the casing is usually removed by the retailer so asking if there is MSG in it or not is not an easy exercise. They had to find an unopened piece of mortadella with the casing around it to see if there was MSG in the product.

      It was fortunate for me that the current mortadella by Bertocchi no longer has MSG in it, even though the old “out of date” casing said that it had.

      Both Woolworths and Coles told me that it was wrong to use the old casing just to get rid of it.
      I suspect that you would agree with me about not using old casing that does not reflect the real contents of a meat product.

      Otherwise, why bother listing false ingredients?

      I do ask about the contents, by the way, but sometimes, producers like Bertocchi may be misleading the buyer, one way or the other. I actually had to phone Bertocchi Smallgoods and speak to Margaret who is responsible for the manufacture of the smallgoods because I wanted to hear Bertocchi’s explanation for the discrepancy. The Deli manager of Woolworths Australia was unimpressed, by the way, that Bertocchi was trying to use up old casing, as you know.

      You may call me a drama queen without any common sense whatsoever if that suits you but it doesn’t change the fact that I cannot trust Bertocchi to provide correct information about its products.


  2. Nothing you just said takes away from the fact that you could have just asked about MSG at the time you bought it. Take some responsibility for your own health! That’s what I meant by lack of common sense. Sounds harsh but I shudder to think what would happen to you if you had a severe anaphylactic allergy.

    On a more general note, I also find it sad that your time as a political refugee/political prisoner doesn’t seem to have given you any perspective. No offence but your blog is just full of you complaining about things which, like this, really aren’t *that bad* (compared to what I imagine you’ve endured in the past, anyway).

    Try to talk about some things you’re grateful for as well – you’ll feel happier for it, trust me.


    • Dear Sarah,

      I do indeed take responsibility for my health, Sarah and the usual reply when I ask about Mortadella made by other manufacturers is that they are MSG-free. That is the norm nowadays. What I did not realise is that your family’s recipe for Mortadella used to have MSG in it and that is why you were trying to use up old casing. That is what Margaret told me.

      It was included in the past but no longer is even the the old casing says that it contains MSG. I was disturbed by the fact that the old casing did not reflect the current contents of the Mortadella. It was the crucial point of my blog. That is what upset Mr Scott Wing (head of Woolworths Deli section) also.

      Still, it was very fortunate that I did not experience an attack of anaphylaxis which landed me in hospital once. That is why I am so cautious. So please don’t shudder on my behalf since I am quite capable of taking responsibility for my own health.

      On a more general note I don’t expect you to understand my past life and if I wish to write about trivial things, I will continue to do so. That is my prerogative. I assume that it was your grandfather who came out from Italy as a migrant and worked hard to set up the Bertocchi business. You must be very proud of his success.

      Those of us who came from the hell of the Holocaust do not forget what happened. We appreciate the fact that we survived. I was born in one of those places and I could write a lot about the tragedy of those times. That would be too depressing for me, however and so I find solace in writing about the everyday little things that piss me off, like useless ring-pull tabs on cans etc. It’s what I enjoy.

      We all deal with our demons in our own ways, Sarah. I prefer satire and witty comedy. Having been an academic, radio announcer, a professional TV and film critic and high-school teacher and examiner, and mother of two rather well-known professors, I feel that I can now do as I please.

      Consider yourself fortunate that you are not compelled to read my blogs. They are obviously not to your taste.

      Nevertheless, I wish you all the best for 2014


  3. Are you THAT ignorant that MSG is a NATURAL product that your body actually produces for metabolism of food.
    ARE you allergic to ALL food?


    • Dear Wendy,

      My complaint about Bertocchi has nothing to do with its taste. That seemed okay to me. I simply disapprove of its misleading casing.


  4. Hi Lilli, check out their new ad for leg ham. They use real ingredients! What a way around putting crap into it, aren’t all ingredients real? Sulphur nitrate is real and that’s used in it….
    I support you 100% Sarah has her head stuck up her ar*e!


    • Nitrate is a preservative you cretin, it needs to be put in hams so that they don’t go off after 1 day. Maybe you should get your head out of your ar*e and educate yourself instead of talking nonsense. No doubt you think anyone who’s smarter than you has their head up their a*se, which probably accounts for about 99% of people.


  5. I feel I should add that I just hate in general when people are so intent on attacking Australian businesses. Every time one goes bankrupt and everyone loses their job, we all feel bad, but the rest of the time it seems fine to tear them down on social media for every little thing. I know people who have lost their jobs from this very thing and it just makes me sad.


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