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Beware the views of Britain’s ‘food Taliban’

Nutrition is not a precise science. Most studies on the effects of human dietary intake have to take account of potentially confounding factors, since it is rarely possible to control what people eat in extended studies as it might with lab rats.

SACN shook the industry

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s (SACN’s) report on carbohydrates and Public Health England’s subsequent plans for sugar reduction caused a stir last month.

FSA Board shows risk aversion on ‘raw’ milk

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) Board’s decision on raw drinking milk controls (July 23 2014) was based on a risk averse approach in not accepting the recommendation of the FSA officials to modernise the rules so that consumers would be able to buy unpasteurised milk online and from vending machines. The decision was made despite the fact that sales would remain under the control of the farmers and subject to the much stricter controls than those for milk to be pasteurised.

Weighing up the dairy 'risk'

Although the UK’s cardiovascular disease (CVD) rates have been falling, a substantial increase is predicted at a global level.

Discounters' costs will increase as they grow

News that supermarket chain Sainsbury had entered into a £25M joint venture (jv) with Dansk Supermarked to establish 15 Netto stores across the UK was further evidence that the major multiples recognised they needed to do more to address the inexorable rise of hard discounters Aldi and Lidl.

Food scientists: it's time to raise your voices

It’s time for food scientists to raise their heads above the parapet and make the case for science and technology in feeding the world. The huge challenges facing us and the need to help the public navigate the miasma of dodgy food messages they are constantly bombarded with, means it would be irresponsible not to.

Food firms can't be expected to curb sales

Food promotion has been described by the Department of Health (DH) as the final priority area for the Public Health Responsibility Deal Food Network. Bluntly, it is all about how manufacturers and retailers can be persuaded not to promote their products to consumers. But, obviously, that is not how it is described by the DH.

BNF serves up food advice

From September, all children in England aged five to 14 will be taught about healthy eating, cooking and the provenance of food. We at the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) are doing our bit to help teachers prepare.

Traffic light labels: 'not the answer to obesity'

Now that common sense has been confirmed by a consumer survey that traffic light labelling is confusing and misleading, maybe the Department of Health (DH) should sit up, take stock and review its strategy on healthy eating

Who pays for ensuring food is safe and legal?

The latest scandal within the foodservice sector, with a Which? survey of takeaway lamb curries and kebabs identifying the presence of other cheaper species including beef, chicken and turkey, just goes to show that food fraud didn't end with last year’s horsemeat contamination incidents - despite all the adverse publicity they received.

Seven or five?

A recent paper fuelled speculation that the current ‘five-a-day’ message was in need of an uplift to ‘eat at least seven-a-day’.

Yet more burdensome regulation from the EU

From December 2014, under new EU labelling rules, allergens will have to be highlighted in the ingredients lists on food labels rather than in a separate box, which is common practice in the UK, but will no longer be permitted. For example, under the new regulations where cheese is an ingredient, this must be followed by the word ‘milk’, in bold.

Get ready for a ‘scary ride’ to retailer shelves

Morrisons’ appalling results and the associated announcement last month by the retailer’s boss Dalton Philips that he planned to sell off a large slice of its estate to raise funds towards the £1bn earmarked for price cuts sent shivers throughout the whole food supply chain.

Sustainable messages from the BNF

As the global population continues to rise, identifying means to feed current and future generations sustainably becomes ever more pressing.

Has 2 Sisters bitten off more than it can chew?

Ranjit Boparan’s 2 Sisters Food Group (2SFG) was voted one of the most admired food firms at the start of the year in a report from corporate reputation experts at Birmingham City University.

Obesity levels plateauing?

Stark global statistics greeted us in January. They indicated an explosion in overweight and obesity levels in the developing world, with prevalence almost quadrupling, especially in North Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, where obesity levels are now similar to those in Europe.

Government’s smart swaps aren't so smart

I was going to write about sugar being the new salt for the healthy diet campaigners. But I changed my mind when I looked at the government’s Change4Life so-called Smart Swaps online. What a muddle!

Letter to Editor: Why we have really made a mess of things in Britain?

Sir, I am writing about Paul Gander’s article (‘Make the FIR fly ’), published in Food Manufacture, October 2013, p47.

The power of three in Elliott’s interim report

Among the recommendations in the Elliott interim report on the horsemeat fiasco three stood out, not because they were necessarily the most important, but because they addressed issues that have long been matters of great concern to the industry. But it is a pity that it needed a report of this nature to provide an incentive for action.

Will the government admit it got it wrong?

Professor Chris Elliott’s interim findings of his inquiry into last January’s horsemeat contamination scandal were published last month.

Does fewer calories mean less nutrition?

The analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies reminds us of the long-term decline in calories purchased, falling by 15-30%, over the period 1980-2009, during which body weight has increased by 8.6kg and 7.9kg in men and women respectively. Clearly, ‘calories out’ in our increasingly sedentary lifestyles has a role to play in controlling obesity levels too. The analysis also revealed that squeezed budgets and substantial rises in food prices relative to other goods, during 2007-2012, has accelerated this trend.

Where's the evidence for reducing sat fats?

The Countess of Mar in the House of Lords received a written reply from Earl Howe (Department of Health) on November 18 2013 on the question of the scientific evidence upon which government had based its policy to encourage people to eat less saturated fat.

Price and provenance win the retailer race

Price – though very important – isn’t enough for the multiple retailers any more. In their quest for differentiation, other considerations, such as provenance, have become even more important.

Box-ticking and delays after horsemeat crisis

Eight months after the horsemeat scandal, ingredient firms are still struggling to come to terms with the consequences. No-one in the industry would argue that the world has not changed in terms of traceability, inspections, audits and accountability.

Be warned: sugar is the next battleground

The food industry should be warned. Sugar will be the next battleground after saturated fats. Some medical experts and lobbyists claim that high levels of sugar in processed food is a far more serious issue than sat fats.