Outside the marginals

A commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010, 2015 & 2017 elections (and THAT referendum)

Archive for the category “Food Standards”

Meating the Challenge

Meat eating appeared again on the Today programme today (1 September 2014 BBC Radio4). The essential argument is that using animals as part of the processing chain to turn the nutrition available from plants into food for humans is inefficient in terms of both energy use (and CO2 emissions) and land use. It is unsustainable – it is far more efficient if we cut out the animals and eat plants directly.

Research from Cambridge and Aberdeen universities estimates greenhouse gases from food production will go up 80% if meat and dairy consumption continues to rise at its current rate.
BBC News Website 1 September 2014 : Greenhouse gas fear over increased levels of meat eating

It’s an uncomfortable – but compelling argument. Read more…

Globalisation and Prawns

A Guardian investigation has found:

Slaves forced to work for no pay for years at a time under threat of extreme violence are being used in Asia in the production of seafood sold by major US, British and other European retailers, the Guardian can reveal.

A six-month investigation has established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns (commonly called shrimp in the US) sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco.

The investigation found that the world’s largest prawn farmer, the Thailand-based Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods, buys fishmeal, which it feeds to its farmed prawns, from some suppliers that own, operate or buy from fishing boats manned with slaves.
The Guardian 10 June 2014 : Revealed: Asian slave labour producing prawns for supermarkets in US, UK

Quite revolting, but,

Read more…

Budget Cooking and Celebrity Chefs

Julian Ware-lane in a blog post Look at me, I’m wonderful: helping the poor whilst helping yourself ponders:

what are the motives of those making a good living selling advice to the poor? Are those that are seeking a top ten spot for their advice in it for the good they tell us they are doing, or for less selfless reasons?

Presumably he is thinking of the Pucker Jamie Oliver? Read more…

Five years after Lehman, all tickety-boo?

Robert Peston on his BBC blog (9 September 2013) poses the above question.

At the end of this week, on 15 September, it will be the fifth anniversary of the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers. …

The question is whether the financial system is now in shape, and capable of absorbing the inevitable knocks and bruises to which all constructs of frail humans are prone, without inflicting too much cost on the rest of the economy or taxpayers.

What has been done in five years to prevent banks holding entire economies to ransom when they run into difficulties?

My fear is that very little has been done – as Peston seems to say, but I am not sure that much can be done about it. Read more…

Burgering around with our food

In the news today is a “lab grown” burger (BBC News Website 5 August 2013 World’s first lab-grown burger is eaten in London). It raises some interesting questions. Read more…

Horsing around with our supply chain

The BBC News Website reports (10 February 2013 Horsemeat scandal: French supermarkets pull beef products):

A Swedish brand Findus supplying British supermarkets employed a French company Comigel to make its ready meals, our correspondent says.

To get meat for its factory in Luxembourg, Comigel called on the services of another French firm Spanghero. This company in turn used an agent in Cyprus, who in turn used an agent in the Netherlands, who placed the order at an abattoir in Romania

Yet our Environment Secretary, John Gummer Owen Paterson,  confidently says (citation):

he would eat withdrawn meat products because “they pose no threat to human health”

and (citation)

There may well be more bad news

Our health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, says (citation):

he was confident patients eating food in hospitals were not being put at risk, and emphasised that it was fraud issue, rather than a food safety issue

How do they know?  All we do know is that the meat in some of our processed foods is not what it says on the label (given the complexity of the supply chain – is that a surprise?).  So we know that we cannot trust the labels and there is no guarantee that the fraudsters that Owen Patterson holds responsible have been careful that the meat that they substituted was of good quality.

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