Artisan Food Law Blog
The grand political narratives around the COP21 conference in Paris will barely touch on one crucial aspect – food. The Paris talks are of vital importance, not just for climate change itself but for framing what kind of food economy follows. And why does food matter for climate change? Well, it’s a major factor driving it yet barely gets a mention. Tim Lang and Rebecca Wells from London's City University make the case for systemic change.
Do EU hygiene rules unduly constrain artisan food producers in the quality and range of food they are able to make? Artisan Food Law is working with Slow Food International on a study across Europe into this critical issue. The first stage will focus on artisan cheese and dairy production and we will be using the opportunity presented by Slow Cheese in Bra, Italy next month to further our research.
The refrain that EU food hygiene rules are excessive and place a disproportionate burden on small scale food producers is often heard, usually expressed in a despairing tone of voice. What may be reasonable in regulating industrial and factory processed food is out of all proportion to what is necessary in small scale food production. Do you have a story to tell? We would like to hear from you ... read on.
Early last year the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) embarked on a consultation with a view to producing guidance that would help protect the integrity of certain marketing terms used in relation to food – notably ‘artisan’, ‘farmhouse’, ‘traditional’ and ‘natural’.
Attempts to define in any legal sense the meaning of words can be fraught with difficulty, but given there is so much evidence of the abuse of words like ‘artisan’ may be it’s worth a try.
Comparisons can be fraught with difficulty, but all food carries some degree of risk and all risks are relative. Supermarket chicken and raw drinking milk are two foods in the news headlines recently, how do they compare?
The British Poultry Council estimates that in 2013 about 870 million chickens were bred, hatched, reared, and slaughtered in the UK and the equivalent of another 400 million birds were imported, mainly from Europe. A total of 1,270 million. There are no official figures for raw milk sales, but best estimates suggest that around 1.2 million litres or just over 2.1 million pints of raw drinking milk are presently consumed in the UK every year.
This post is an updated version of ‘ The FSA and so-called ‘risky’ foods’ which was published on 2 November 2014. Since then the Board of the FSA has met twice to consider the ‘risky’ foods framework and, more recently, burgers served rare.
A seemingly innocuous discussion paper was presented to the Board of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) early last November. ‘Our Approach to “Risky” Foods’ set out a significant new approach to the management of so-called ‘risky’ foods.
The milestone for many food producers this month is not Christmas, but 13 December – food labelling day when the food information to consumers (FIC) Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 comes into effect. It’s worth remembering what it’s all about: protecting health and providing information, that’s the stated aim of the FIC, as it appears now to be more affectionately known.
The long awaited new labelling regime seems to be the source of widespread confusion and consternation among food producers and retailers, not to mention restaurants coping with allergen labelling, or at least it is if you believe the trade press. The presence of allergens in food has dominated media coverage, an important change but let’s not overlook the rest.
The FSA’s apparent change of heart on raw drinking milk over the summer earlier this year seemed like a breeze of fresh air, a more rational and reasonable approach to the management of food safety risks looked to be in the making. It now seems that a return to historical paranoia is the order of the day.
On 5 November 2014, this coming Wednesday, the Board of the FSA meets and will discuss ‘Our Approach to ‘Risky’ Foods’, a report prepared by Steve Wearne, the FSA’s Director of Policy. In the report ‘risky’ foods are “those foods that pose, or are perceived to pose, risks that are greater than those posed by the majority of foods that are not subject to specific controls.” Where the authority for defining a group of foods in such subjective terms comes from is unclear, but it seems the FSA is again set on demonising traditional foods which it perceives pose a greater level of risk.
It all rather depends on the country in which you live whether artisan cheese is in the ascendancy or under threat. Happily, in the UK the former is clearly the case, but the picture elsewhere looks mixed at best.
Three contrasting news stories have appeared over recent weeks which consider the future of small scale raw milk cheese production in the US, France and the UK and raise important questions.