Waitrose changes name of kaffir lime leaves amid racism concerns

Waitrose changes name of Kaffir lime leaves amid racial slur concerns
The new packaging of the dried lime leaves, which are a popular ingredient in South East Asian cuisine, will be rolled out to all shops and on Waitrose's website by early next year.
// Waitrose says it will re-label its kaffir lime leaves to Makrut Lime Leaves
// “Kaffir” was used in apartheid-era South Africa as a racist insult towards Black people
// It is a common ingredient in south-East Asian cuisine and in Thailand it is known as makrut

Waitrose is changing the name of its kaffir lime leaves over customer concerns that the word has historically been used as a racist insult in South Africa.

The grocer’s Cooks’ Ingredients Kaffir Lime Leaves will be re-labelled as Makrut Lime Leaves “in response to customer comments we’ve received”, a spokeswoman said.

The new packaging of the dried lime leaves, which are a popular ingredient in South East Asian cuisine, will be rolled out to all shops and on Waitrose’s website by early next year.


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“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,” Waitrose grocery trading manager Helena Dennis said.

“While some of our customers may be unaware of the connotations of this particular word, it’s 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 in order to make a difference on a widespread, national scale.”

Waitrose said it would explain the name change in shelf labelling, on recipe cards and in its cookery schools as cookbooks and other literature still widely referred to kaffir lime leaves.

The fruit, known botanically as citrus hystrix, is native to Sri Lanka and is also found in Mauritius and South East Asia, including Thailand – where it is known as makrut.

It is thought that Scottish botanist HF MacMillan introduced the fruit to the English-speaking world, using the name kaffir lime in the late 1800s.

However, the word was used in apartheid-era South Africa as a racist insult towards Black people.

In 2018, a woman was jailed in the country for abusing a Black policeman with the word.

Many chefs and food writers in the UK, Australia and the US have chosen to adopt the name makrut for the fruit instead.

with PA Wires

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I’m all for updating / changing things taking into account the world we live in.

    But seriously ?! They are Kaffir Lime leaves and always will be. When I buy some I just think Kaffir Lime leaves – there is no association with the derogatory ‘similar’ South African word !!

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