Artisan Food Law Blog
The foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in 2001 witnessed the slaughter of millions of animals and horrific images of burning pyres of dead livestock across the British countryside that will be etched on the memories of many for decades to come. Official figures put the cost of the outbreak at over £8 billion. The economic, environmental, social and human cost was, however, much higher and far in excess of what it ought to have been. The scale of the outbreak was due largely due to the fact that it was one of the most poorly managed. The ban on swill-feeding pigs was one among many hasty, ill-considered actions. We live with the legacy of the ban on swill-feeding today, at a time when the imperative is to eliminate food waste and reduce food miles to combat climate change. The rationale which underpinned the ban must be brought into question.
Late last summer Artisan Food Law wrote about a forthcoming short study, undertaken on behalf of and working with Slow Food International, on the impact of 'flexibility' within the Hygiene Package which has now been completed. Few question the need for stringent rules regulating industrial food production, but when we talk about artisan cheese producers we are referring to a group of producers who exercise direct control over the whole of the production process and a very different situation. There is some concession made for small scale producers in the Hygiene Package in the form of 'flexibility'. It all sounds like a great idea. In practice it involves a regulatory system of derogations or exemptions, adaptations and exclusions beyond the comprehension of all but the most committed legal mind. Are these arrangements and the policy they reflect fit for purpose?
The Scottish Government is calling for UK flour to be fortified with synthetic folic acid in order to reduce birth defects, especially neural tube conditions such as spina bifida. The UK government is still considering its position after positive recommendations from its advisors, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN). No-one can argue against the desirability of improving the diet and health of women before and during pregnancy, nor dismiss the Scottish government’s concern that low folate status affects deprived communities most severely. Putting synthetic folic acid in flour is an attractively simple solution, but it would be a big mistake. Andrew Whitley of Bread Matters explains why the fortification of flour with folic acid would be a big mistake.
The Sole of Discretion will create a new supply chain which fairly rewards responsible fishers. Consumers will get fresh, high quality fish despatched or frozen within hours of a catch being landed. Sole of Discretion will put provenance, quality and fairness at the heart of its business model.
Yes, this is a crowdfunding project, but if you care about food and have a conscience it is one you must seriously consider!
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.