'Swallow This' by Joanna Blythman - Wood fired ovens -  Food labelling fall out - EFSA scientific opinion on raw milk ... and a full news round up

Newsletter No. 26   Spring 2015

Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry’s Darkest Secrets
Swallow This
Joanna Blythman went undercover and gained unprecedented access to the food industry in writing her latest book ‘Swallow This’ which is an exploration of the food processing industry – not just the more obvious ready meals, chicken nuggets and tinned soups, but bagged salads, smoothies, yoghurts, bread and fruit juice we don't usually associate with arrays of additives.
“Forget illegal, horse-meat-scandal processes, every step in the production of these is legal, but practised by a strange and inaccessible industry, with methods a world-away from our idea of domestic food preparation, and obscured by technical speak, unintelligible ingredients manuals, and clever labelling practices.”
The more eagle eyed among you may have noticed that Joanna Blythman is a longstanding supporter of Artisan Food Law but regardless of this fact ‘Swallow This’ is required reading for anyone who wishes to be well informed about what they are eating – or choosing to avoid! 

You can 
read an extract from ‘Swallow This’ to whet your appetite.
Artisan Food Law has recently included Additives, Flavourings, Contaminants and Residues: Food Additives in the freely accessible Library with more on contaminants and residues to follow.

Wood Fired Ovens
Wood fired bread oven
The fashion for wood fired bread ovens has brought into focus the requirements of the Clean Air Act 1993. This rise in popularity will inevitably bring with it a stricter approach to the enforcement of the law on smoke control than has so far been the case.
The occupier of any building within a smoke control area from which, on any day, smoke is emitted from a chimney is guilty of an offence under section 20 of the Clean Air Act 1993. We take a closer look at the requirements and how to operate a wood fired bread oven lawfully in an updated Bread and Bakery: Wood Fired Ovens in the Artisan Food Law Library. The update includes the latest 2015 additions to approved wood fired ovens for use in Smoke Control Areas (SCAs).

Photo credit: Vinny Burgoo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Food labelling day fall out
Food label
Last December will be remembered by food producers for food labelling day – protecting health, providing information when on 13 December the food information to consumers (FIC) Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 came into effect. Despite having had over three years to prepare for the introduction of the new labelling regime, the mandatory declaration of 14 food allergens came in for much criticism.
FIC labelling changes "could put our much valued local small food producers in jeopardy" claimed Mark Williams MP. More than 100 chefs, including Albert Roux, Mark Hix and Thomasina Miers, complained that EU allergen rules are harming restaurants across the UK. This was a reaction which disappointed many, including Liz Smith who pointed out:
“Smart restaurateurs are embracing the trend, such as 2 Oxford Place in Leeds, which has a 100% gluten-free kitchen and menu, along with dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan options.”
The criticism coming from chefs received a pithy response from the Food Standards Agency. The FSA's Director of  Policy Steve Wearne asked: “Is it too much to ask that restaurateurs know what ingredients are in the food that they serve?”
Meanwhile, a new beef and lamb ‘pasture-fed’ label has been launched by the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association which guarantees meat comes from an animal which only ate fresh and conserved grass and forage for its entire life.

EFSA publishes long awaited opinion on raw drinking milk
EFSA's Scientific Opinion
A long awaited and much anticipated scientific opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on health risks associated with raw milk was published on 13 January.
It proved, however, to be something of a damp squib.
The report contains nothing not previously known and makes no attempt to quantify risk which leaves it open for the risk to continue to be exaggerated.

Meanwhile, the FSA continues to develop its approach to so-called ‘risky foods’ turning its attention to the rare burger.
The FSA review of controls over raw drinking milk was on hold pending the review, but according to The Grocer further consideration has now been postponed until the summer at least … subscribers to The Grocer can read more here.

"I can highly recommend Artisan Food Law, it’s a hugely useful and expert information resource on the law affecting artisan and small scale food producers."
Joanna Blythman
Award winning author and investigative journalist

Meanwhile …
Law and policy
Danish supermarket pulls insects from shelves. Insects are novel foods which cannot be marketed under the EU novel foods regulations.
Call for "clear and honest labelling" on the question of stun before slaughter - 80% of halal meat is pre-stunned.
Compulsory Food Hygiene Rating Scheme displays have improved Welsh hygiene standards - 56% of businesses are rated 5/5.
British dairy products may get country of origin labelling. Under new EU rules pork, chicken and lamb are to be more clearly labelled from April, dairy products could be next.
Local food names are not for sale – the place of GIs under TTIP is not simply a technical matter. The Cornish pasty and other EU protected foods are under threat from TTIP.
Australian scientists say fat should be recognised as sixth primary taste - makes sense?
EFSA publishes EU's first insect food safety guide. The next big thing in Canapés?
How the great food war will be won – a compelling read from Independent Science News.
EFSA rejects yoghurt weight loss health claims.
Artisan foods
50 of the most promising food and drink entrepreneurs dubbed 'Food Stars' by Defra UK.
Extreme-aged steak: the gourmet world of meat with mould on - Lake Road Kitchen serves steaks aged for 90 to 100 days.
Neals Yard Creamery recalls Ragstone unpasteurised goat’s milk cheese as a precaution due to high levels of Listeria monocytogenes.
A 10 year wait and the first truffle cultivated on British soil has been harvested in a Leicestershire field. Meanwhile, South Africa’s first black truffle is discovered after one man's 9 year quest to cultivate succeeds.
The sweetest rhubarb is forced inside a pitch-dark shed – Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb.
How do you save an endangered pear? Students take action to save the Warden Pear.
Baron Bigod Brie - a visit to Fen Farm Dairy to see the making of a great cheese!
Raw milk cheese ban lifted in Australia
“What’s happened to wheat that is causing the increase in digestive disorders? And can we get back to the bread we ate for millennia without becoming wheat intolerant?” Vanessa Kimbell explores these vexed questions.
Following a healthy diet? Don't forget the spice! Some wise words from Bee Wilson - but mind the EU health claims!
Europe’s olive trees threatened by spread of deadly bacteria. First it was fruit fly, then fungal mould, now bacteria.
"I realised we were different, really different, on a rainy morning in 1987." James Rebanks, the Herdwick Shepherd, on the modern shepherding life.
What are the most ethical eggs you can buy? Free range, barn eggs, organic? Here's a useful guide.
The Risk of Raw Milk. A good, balanced and well written article
World's most popular banana variety risks wipe-out from deadly fungus. A lesson in what happens when biodiversity is neglected.
Farm hit by falling milk prices turns to selling raw milk direct.
The farmer who makes ethical foie gras. Dan Barber meets the Spanish farmer who knows what's good for the goose - and does NOT force feed. Ethical foie gras from Sousa & Labourdette.
Wine, beer, spirits and drinks
Sussex vineyards in bid to put themselves on Europe's wine map – a PDO for Sussex wine.

Four out of five cider-makers under threat from EU tax call. EU Commission demands Britain do away with a duty exemption worth £2,500 to small-scale producers of cider and perry and affect 80% of the UK’s 480 cider-makers. Plan to end exemption for small producers ‘would hasten demise of traditional orchards’.

A taste of honey: meet the mead-maker Gosnells London Mead. Honey, water and yeast to make the oldest fermented drink.
Sustainable fish
Greenpeace comes to the aid of Britain's small fishing vessels. Boats under 10 metres get 4% of the fishing quota while the 5 largest foreign controlled vessels get 32%.
Foraging for food in winter - Ray Mears and Jesper Launder share their tips ... but don't get your hopes up!

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