Traditional Foods

Let dairy farmers safely meet consumer demand for raw milk

12 March 2014 - 3:17pm -- Gerry Danby
Fen Farm Dairy's raw milk vending machine

Survey data commissioned by the Food Standards Agency revealed that 77% of those surveyed supported continued sales of raw drinking milk and while 20% expressed interest in buying or consuming raw milk only 3% do so regularly. In short there is significant unmet consumer demand which raw milk vending machines could do much to meet.

The FSA, however, has a problem with raw milk vending machines. “Selfridges' raw milk dispenser 'contravenes food hygiene regulations'” was the news headline back in December 2011 which broke shortly before the FSA decided, in March 2012, that it would undertake a review of the regulations governing the sale of raw drinking milk.

A sad day for Scotch Beef and EU protected food names

19 February 2014 - 11:08am -- Gerry Danby
Scotch Beef and the EU PGI

Farmfoods frozen beef burgers carry both Quality Meat Scotland’s ‘Scotch Beef’ assurance mark and the EU protected geographical indication (PGI) logo. Packs of 16 beef burgers are advertised at 4 for £10. That makes a ‘BEST SCOTCH BEEF’ burger cost 15.6p! A deal too good to be true? The Elliott Review, which looked at integrity and assurance in the food chain in the wake of horsegate, had illustrated how to produce a ‘gourmet’ burger for less than 30p and encouraged searching questions.

Farmfoods burgers may, as things stand, be made from Scotch Beef, but is it decent, honest and truthful to describe them as made from the ‘BEST SCOTCH BEEF’?

FSA launches long-awaited raw milk review – an informed choice?

3 February 2014 - 2:23pm -- Gerry Danby
Hook & Son - raw milk fresh from the farm direct to your door

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has announced the public consultation stage following a policy review of sales of raw drinking milk. The consultation pack which accompanied the announcement last Thursday, 30 January, extends to 191 pages of detailed information and sets out four options for the future. The good news is that the FSA has expressed a preference for continuing raw milk sales under the fourth of the following four options:

Option 1: Do nothing
Option 2: All milk to be pasteurised prior to sale
Option 3: Allow sales of raw drinking milk from all outlets
Option 4: Introduce measures to harmonise and clarify current controls.

In short, in a choice between the status quo, either extreme and somewhere in the middle, a whisker away from the status quo it is the last of these which is preferred by the FSA at this stage.

The battle for Greek yoghurt – Chobani passed off

29 January 2014 - 1:19pm -- Gerry Danby
Greek yoghurt

Sorry Chobani, I always understood ‘Greek yoghurt’ came from Greece, that’s why we have ‘Greek style yoghurt’. Chobani’s views about what people think are, like its yoghurt, a US import.

FAGE began producing yoghurt in the late 1920s and since the mid-1980s has imported TOTAL yoghurt, the brand name used in the UK, from Greece. FAGE accounts for 95% of all Greek yoghurt sold in the UK. The remaining 5% being mainly Tesco and Asda own-label Greek yoghurt also imported from Greece. The widely available ‘Greek style yoghurts’ retail at a substantially cheaper price. FAGE sued newcomer Chobani for 'Greek yoghurt' made in the USA.

All change for the fruit juices and nectars regulations

24 November 2013 - 12:24pm -- Gerry Danby
Apple juice

The need to implement Directive 2012/12/EU and the desire to make life simpler for fruit drink producers were the driving forces behind The Fruit Juices and Fruit Nectars (England) Regulations 2013. The 2013 Regulations give effect to the Directive and consolidate, with the removal of minor ‘gold plating’ and as a part of the Red Tape Challenge, all the earlier regulations into a single set which came into force on 20 November 2013.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) consulted on the proposed changes earlier this year and publication of the response coincided with the implementation of the 2013 Regulations. The changes were broadly welcomed by the five bodies which responded to the consultation, two trade associations and three local authority trading standards bodies, and have provoked little or no critical response.

No more real jam tomorrow

3 November 2013 - 2:25pm -- Gerry Danby
Traditional British jam

Vivien Lloyd of Vivien Lloyd Preserves reflects on the looming demise of traditional jam in this guest blog post.

After months of debate, the waiting is over. Following a consultation, Defra have decided, amongst other things, to reduce the permitted sugar level for jams, jellies and marmalades from 60% to 50%. Reducing permitted sugar levels will, over time, destroy the characteristic quality of British jams, jellies and marmalades and could potentially mislead consumers.

Traditional jams are a mixture of cooked fruit without additives, their quality is determined by the proportions of sugar, fruit, pectin and acid in the product and reducing the sugar content means the characteristic gel in the consistency of jams, jellies and marmalades will be lost.

Raw milk sales ‘not in keeping with the spirit’ of the law?

25 October 2013 - 11:05am -- Gerry Danby
Organic Raw Milk from Emma's Dairy

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is about to embark on a review of controls over the availability of raw drinking milk which has grown and is growing in popularity. Recent sales of raw milk using a vending machine and online sales have been criticised by the FSA as ‘not in keeping with the spirit’ of the law. This is one issue likely to feature prominently in the review.

The FSA appears to be set on tightening up the law, which may well make it much harder to buy raw milk, but is the FSA’s view correct or misguided?

Bread and flour - the fig-leaf of fortification remains

4 September 2013 - 2:16pm -- Gerry Danby

Andrew Whitley of Bread Matters reflects on a missed opportunity in this guest blog post.

The Government has decided to leave The Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 unchanged after years of deliberation and a consultation. So the fig-leaf of fortification remains, but what we need is more nutrient-dense food.

Defra reviewed the need for the 1998 Regulations and a public consultation on ‘possible regulatory options’ ended on 13 March 2013. Ministers announced their decision – to do nothing – in early August, the traditional month for burying policy embarrassments. There has been predictably little reaction, which is a shame, because an opportunity has been missed to realign a part of the food system for good.


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