Too many shoddy prod­ucts on mar­ket

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - Countryside -

Their sug­ges­tion is a tax on food to stop peo­ple eat­ing so much of it. Not all food: merely (so far, at least) sausages, ba­con and steak, the usual sus­pects when it comes to the food po­lice lec­tur­ing us about what we should and shouldn’t be putting on our plates and thence into our mouths.

I may have come across more lu­di­crous ideas but I can’t for the mo­ment re­call any. And as some­one in­volved in the pro­duc­tion of both live­stock and prod­ucts de­rived from them I have to ques­tion the san­ity of peo­ple who sug­gest such ideas.

Steak has long been a tar­get for the anti-meat lobby be­cause, os­ten­si­bly, of the un­wel­come con­tri­bu­tion live­stock farm­ing al­legedly makes to green­house gas emis­sions – which con­ve­niently over­looks the other side of the equa­tion which de­mon- strates how much CO2 is use­fully locked up by pas­tures.

And ba­con and sausages have now been added to the list purely as a re­sult of stud­ies show­ing that some prod­ucts so de­scribed are less than whole­some, con­tain­ing high pro­por­tions of ei­ther flavour en­hancers or fat or preser­va­tives.

The prob­lem we are re­ally fac­ing is that the Gov­ern­ment ef­fec­tively lost con­trol of the food sec­tor years ago and is now des­per­ately at­tempt­ing to put the ge­nie back in the bot­tle.

Suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments have al­lowed far too many shoddy and in­deed un­healthy prod­ucts to fly onto the mar­ket un­der a flag of con­ve­nience – whether ‘sausages’ pro­duced not from prime cuts of meat but from snouts, ears and rusk; or pro­cessed ‘cheese’ cob­bled to­gether from milk pow­der and var­i­ous flavour­ings and colour­ings; or ‘cider’ made not by fer­ment­ing pressed ap­ple juice but by blend­ing in­dus­trial spirit car­bon­ated wa­ter and fruit pulp.

All these low-grade prod­ucts are sold along­side the gen­uine, vastly su­pe­rior ar­ti­cles. And now any at­tempt to stop us eat­ing so many in­fe­rior and un­healthy prod­ucts is threat­en­ing to catch the bona fide prod­ucts quite un­fairly in the same net.

Can any of these re­searchers tell me why the pork sausages I make from parts of a pig are any un­health­ier than the rest of the pig which I sell as joints?

Why pre­serv­ing the same meat to make ba­con – a process which has been go­ing on for 10,000 years at least without, ap­par­ently caus­ing the dis­ap­pear­ance of the hu­man race – cre­ates a dan­ger­ous prod­uct?

Or why a help­ing of grass-fed steak – for most of us an oc­ca­sional treat any­way be­cause of its price – is go­ing to send us to an early grave?

And can I ex­pect the idea of a break­fast tax now too be ex­am­ined closely by min­is­ters not be­cause of their con­cern for our health and well­be­ing but as a po­ten­tial new source of rev­enue for the Trea­sury?

Or am I be­ing un­duly cyn­i­cal?

‘The prob­lem we are re­ally fac­ing is that the Gov­ern­ment ef­fec­tively lost con­trol of the food

sec­tor years ago

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