Playing chicken in lots of different ways

There is a just published article in ‘The Grocer’ stating that food suppliers are running out of space to stockpile goods.

the price of storage had risen by 15% per pallet per week in recent weeks, with inflation across the third quarter as a whole of 8%, but all of the chilled space in London and the Midlands was gone.

This is because the supermarkets have rented additional space on which they retained options – particularly chilled and frozen space – so there is actually now no extra space for suppliers.

Oh dear. Why on earth are we doing this to ourselves?

Meanwhile there is disturbing news from the US, where Liam Fox and David Davis now seem to spend much of their time. Sustain – the alliance for better food and farming reports (and, in reading the quotations we should bear in mind that the UK population is approximately 20% of that of the USA):

The US Centre of Disease Control and Prevention reports around 380 deaths in the US each year attributed to foodborne salmonella poisoning. The most recent epidemiological lab data from Public Health England shows no deaths in England and Wales from salmonella between 2005 and 2015. Salmonella food poisoning is most commonly caused by consumption of contaminated food of animal origin, such as beef, chicken, milk, fish or eggs.

Remember Edwina Currie?

The Food Standards Agency recently updated its guidance to say that eating soft-boiled British Lion Mark eggs is now safe, thanks to a dramatic reduction in the presence of salmonella. By contrast, the US Food and Drug Administration still advises US consumers to hard boil their eggs due to salmonella fears. They report 79,000 cases of illness and 30 deaths a year from salmonella infected eggs.

Campylobacter – another food poisoning pathogen found in animal products, especially chicken – causes 1.3m illnesses every year in the US, and their frequency of outbreak is on the rise. The most recent US laboratory-confirmed infection data shows an infection rate from campylobacter of 6,289 per 100k of population. By contrast, Public Health England lab data for England and Wales from 2015 showed a campylobacter infection rate of 96.22 per 100k population. In addition, the Food Standards Agency has reported a 17% decline in laboratory reports of campylobacter in the UK in 2016, saving the economy an estimated £13m each year from reduced with NHS costs and fewer days off work.

The US reports an average 1591 cases of listeriosis a year. This compares to an average of 177 a year in England and Wales. Listeriosis is usually caught from eating food such as unpasteurised milk, soft cheeses and chilled ready to eat foods like pâté.

Using Food Standards Agency estimates of the current costs of campylobacter infections, Sustain made a conservative estimate of £1bn additional costs to the UK economy – to the NHS and from loss of earnings – if similar patterns of food poisoning occurred in the UK as currently occur in the US.

Never mind that England’s Chief Medical Officer has urged consumers to buy organic or high-welfare meat to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bugs.

So the idea that food which is safe for Americans will be safe for Britons is for the birds – it is not safe for either! The European Research Group, needs, I think, to do some American research.

Because American standards would cost us dearly – and in lives.

This pessimism is getting me down so I’ll end end on a rather more optimistic note; at least Sadiq Khan has banned junk food advertising on all London Transport’s considerable advertising estate. Good for him and good for London.

The hashtag #Adenough at least raises a smile.


  1. Peter May -

    All this EU red tape is so much worse for you…

Comments are closed.