Food revolution: UK retailers drop lime leaves product that carries the k-word
UK supermarket giant Tesco has become the latest international retailer to change the name of its lime leaves product that contains the k-word, acknowledging customer concerns over it being a racial slur in SA.
Waitrose was the first major UK retailer to announce that it was removing the word from its products this week, making an announcement that the product will be relabelled as Makrut Lime Leaves “in response to customer comments”.
iTV reported the new packaging of the leaves, which are often used in southeast Asian cuisine, will be rolled out to all stores and its website by early 2022.
“This name change is a crucial step in recognising how important it is for us to listen to customers and educate ourselves when it comes to the language we use. While some of our customers may be unaware of the connotations of this particular word, it is important to us that we avoid offending anyone who shops with us.
“It is changes like this that ensure we are moving forward. We need industry-wide support on this, and encourage other retailers to do the same to make a difference on a widespread national scale,” said Waitrose grocery trading manager Helena Dennis.
According to Daily Mail, Tesco has followed suit, with the retailer telling the publication it is against racism and discrimination of any kind.
It did not give a timeline for the change.
Retailers Sainsbury’s and Co-op said they are also in the process of updating the names of the leaves on their food packaging.
The lime, also known as citrus hystrix, is found in Mauritius, southeast Asia and southern China, where it is referred to as Makrut.
According to Metro UK, the k-word being used in connection with the lime is thought to have come from Scottish botanist HF MacMillan in the late 1800s.
IS IT AVAILABLE IN SA?
Of the major SA retailers, only Woolworths sells lime leaf products online, with it packaged simply as “lime leaf”. A glossary from the store’s popular TASTE publication lists the leaves as “Thai lime leaves”.
The leaves are also sold in SA by several independent online stores, with one using the name "Makrut Thai lime leaves" and two others labelling the leaves with the k-word.