Good thing we’re leaving, eh?

Pubs and restaurants could soon be fined for serving well-done items such as triple-cooked chips or thin and crispy pizza under a second phase of the Government’s crackdown on burnt food.

Following the launch of a major public awareness campaign yesterday to help people reduce “cancer-causing” acrylamide in food, the Daily Telegraph can reveal that food safety watchdogs are planning to extend the warning to every food-serving business in Britain.

Under a new European Union food hygiene directive, due to be adopted in the UK by the the end of 2017, pubs and restaurants will be told to take reasonable steps to reduce acrylamide in food or face enforcement measures.

Until now many local establishments will be unaware that they may soon need to drastically alter cooking practices to reduce acrylamide, which forms when potatoes and grain-based items are cooked in temperatures hotter than 120C.

It means those continuing to serve “high acrylamide” foods, such as brown roast potatoes or burned Yorkshire puddings, could be visited by the Food Standards Agency’s enforcement officers and face hefty fines.

But it’s an interesting example of the inertia of a bureaucracy. Even though we’re leaving they’re still planning to enforce nonsense like this.

49 comments on “Good thing we’re leaving, eh?

  1. Yeah right. And I can just see this being observed in France. The late night crepe stall down by the Seine, a regular stop on the way home, will henceforth be selling warm dishrag rather than the crispy numbers dusted with icing sugar.
    Have these guys never looked in a recipe book? There are no oven cooked dishes, containing grain or potatoes, at under 120C. So it’s basically throw the book away after tearing out the sections on stews, soups, salads & sorbets.

  2. Human beings evolved thanks to cooking fires. If anyone thinks that it is possible to cook anything in the coals without it getting a little crisp they have not been trying in recent times.

    I find it hard to believe that anything so central to the human experience is bad for us. If crispy bacon was the slightest risk to anyone, we would all have become extinct a long time ago.

    Tell them to f**k off.

  3. Come to think of it, I can’t seeing it being a hit in Brussels either. Think. Frites. The Belgians wouldn’t be Belgians without frites. They’d be Luxembourgers, or something.

  4. I fondly remember when it was underdone food (especially burgers) that were going to do us all in…

    Does the FSA base its policy-making on ‘Goldilocks’..?

    “The move is being planned despite scientists accusing the Government of “massively overreacting” as there is no scientific proof of a link between acrylamide consumption and cancer in humans.”

    Now who’s ignoring scientists?

  5. @JuliaM. Quite right. There is no proof but there is evidence, from animal studies where acrylanide was fed to animals in doses (per kg obviously) some three of four orders of magnitude greater than that likely to be eaten by humans. So… eat the most acrylamide containing food in heroic quantities constantly and you *might* get cancer from Acrylamide.

    The “no risk however small” brigade has taken over the FSA asylum.

  6. “The “no risk however small” brigade has taken over the FSA asylum.”

    Nope. The FSA has simply been take over by a bunch of people who get there rocks off telling everyone else what to do, especially if it means robbing them of life’s simpler pleasures.

  7. “The state is a force for good”

    That’s Theresa May’s motto. The only difference with brexit is that they won’t be able to blame these kind of things on Europe.

  8. The only difference with brexit is that they won’t be able to blame these kind of things on Europe.

    And we will be able to vote them out. The British bureaucracy, by and large, historically follows the direction (and, unfortunately, the whims) of the ministers.

    It will whinge and try to make sure its own empires are protected but, especially with SPADs acting as the ministerial gauleiters in the middle levels where the action happens, it does work. Outside the FCO, at least.

    Brussels? Nah.

  9. One would have to eat thousands of slices of toast daily to replicate the doses given to rats in the FSA experiments.

    Luckily I only eat hundreds per day.

  10. But it’s an interesting example of the inertia of a bureaucracy.

    It’s certainly an excellent example of overreach. When the bureaucracy is warning about burned toast and fining you it is safe to cut their numbers by at least half.

  11. Are the restrictions on undercooked and raw foods in many parts of the usa better then?

    If you think there won’t be pettifogging regulations post brexit you have a nasty surprise coming.

  12. “The British bureaucracy, by and large, historically follows the direction (and, unfortunately, the whims) of the ministers.”

    I don’t think so. Like all bureaucracies, the UK civil service has its own agenda. It tries and largely succeeds in steering ministers in its preferred direction. It sees itself as the permanent government. Numerous political memoirs confirm this. The late Alan Clark was particularly good in this respect.

  13. “If you think there won’t be pettifogging regulations post brexit you have a nasty surprise coming.”

    Of course there will be pettifogging regulations after brexit. The point is that the British electorate will have some chance of repealing them. Unlike when we were subject to the gauleiters of Brussels and the Fourth Reich.

  14. Like all bureaucracies, the UK civil service has its own agenda. It tries and largely succeeds in steering ministers in its preferred direction.

    But, its “own agenda” is largely inward. The Yes Prime Minister thing about not moving departments away from London is the classic example. With the exception of the FCO (who prefer dealing with foreign diplomats to British politicians, which is hardly surprising), and the Stasi element in the Home Office, it generally doesn’t reflect much on government policy.

  15. If May has any sense (has she?) Brexit will be accompanied by a huge ‘bonfire of regulations’.

    Unregulated street parties will welcome the event. Circuses will flourish again, and little boys will use jumpers for goal posts. There will be marching bands, male voice choirs, Highland Games, and Morris Dancers. But no Morris cars, thank God.

  16. We have joked about for this for sometime in our family. If someone is being a little too selective in picking out roast potatoes, someone else will pipe up “hey, don’t take all the acrylamides.”

  17. Fire the Senior Civil Service en masse sans compo and confiscate their pensions and titles, honours etc.

    That will remove the main UK actors in this kind of crap and will intimidate their scummy brethren the world around.

  18. But, its “own agenda” is largely inward.

    That’s only partly true, at best. The civil service has been (for example) unequivocally in favour of EEE/EU membership and mass immigration for decades, and it has quietly frustrated political attempts to deal with these issues. It is at it even now with Brexit.

  19. What Julia said. The risk of cancer from overcooked food is tiny, and most likely to strike late in life; whereas the risk of food poisoning from undercooked meat is significant, and most likely to strike within 24 hours of eating.

  20. The civil service has been (for example) unequivocally in favour of EEC/EU membership

    Is that rational though? In theory at least, EU membership should mean civil service ranks being cut, as the work moves to Brussels and economies of scale kick in.

    At least that’s what happens in the private sector: small company gets bought by big one, HR/IT/accounts are taken over by head office.

  21. I’d happily run the risk of a burnt roast potato over a stewed restaurant curry populated by e-coli, campylobacter and salmonella, as well as the liberal doses of jizz that I understand the chefs and waiters sometimes like to add just before serving

  22. AM

    Since when have economies of scale applied to state bureaucracies? More rules = more bureaucrats.

  23. Are the restrictions on undercooked and raw foods in many parts of the usa better then?

    Please don’t tell me you are drawing a parallel between undercooked and raw food, the eating of which has demonstrable and proven effects, with the bollocks released this week.

  24. “Is that rational though? In theory at least, EU membership should mean civil service ranks being cut, as the work moves to Brussels and economies of scale kick in.”

    Oh, FFS! The presumption is, for every bureaucrat in Brussels there must be a corresponding bureaucrat in Westminster to liaise with him. Possibly even a committee, if they think they can get away with it.

  25. JuliaM, the problem with undercooked burgers is that the beef is minced (ground to you) and so has a huge surface area, any of which can be contaminated. In a rare steak the relative surface area is small and that is best cooked. A rare burger may have significant beef surface contamination uncooked inside it. There are exceptions of course, such as the steak rotten all the way through, or a freshly-prepared burger (say a steak haché made on the spot).

  26. Last night in London, I had some loathsome triple-cooked chips which were nothing like any chips you would ever eat in Belgium. I guess they had been boiled, roasted and then fried in tepid fat. The outside was like leather while the inside had the texture of reconstituted mash. The chips themselves must have been 1cm wide and deep. If only there had been some acrylamide.

  27. “There are exceptions of course, such as the steak rotten all the way through”
    Ah! Black beef. Exquisite. Used to get that, “under the counter” from a village butcher in Essex. Cuts with a fork.

  28. Theo,

    > Since when have economies of scale applied to state bureaucracies?

    I know, I just enjoy playing devil’s advocate. Whether the work moves up to Brussels or down to Edinburgh / Cardiff / local authorities, the total number of bureaucrats never seems to go down.

  29. @Rob,

    It’s a personal freedom issue. I know brits are wont to send back perfectly-cooked pork chops (I’ve watched them do it) because they are trained from birth that pork must be dehydrated for three hours before it is fit to eat. I don’t want a government bureaucrat telling me I can’t have it a little pink. Or a burger a little pink (which is a considerably higher risk than solid meat a little pink).

  30. @Witchie: “…the beef is minced (ground to you) and so has a huge surface area, any of which can be contaminated.”

    *baffled face* I’m not American. Minced is fine!

  31. I had to google triple-cooked chips, what a pretentious load of wank cooked up by a poncey southerner.

    Good chips are cooked once in lard and eaten with salt and vinegar in a folded paper parcel.

    Why is the Food Standards Agency the lead, surely it should be Public Health England that comes out with bollocks like this.

    Who is going to pay the EU pensions of people like Clegg once we leave and stop paying the EU, it had better not be the UK taxpayer.

  32. “Even though we’re leaving they’re still planning to enforce nonsense like this.”

    Even though we’re leaving, WE will still enforce nonsense like this. We don’t need the EU to force silly regulations, we can do that all on our own.

  33. JuliaM, the problem with undercooked burgers is that the beef is minced (ground to you) and so has a huge surface area, any of which can be contaminated.

    That doesn’t seem to worry the French much. They eat the fucking things raw, and they serve them to you raw even when you expect it to be cooked.

  34. So rare steaks are probably illegal, as are well-done steaks.

    Is there any state of cooking of a steak that the Health Fascists would approve of?

    Of course not, because it was never about “health” bit, it’s only and always was about the “fascism” bit.

    As Norman Douglas famously said “Do exactly as you please and send everyone else to hell”. Where “everyone else” is the set of nannying fussbuckets.

  35. Raw beef is quite popular in the Netherlands too – ossenworst and filet américain being 2 of the most popular ways of risking food poisoning at lunchtime

  36. BiG: Are the restrictions on undercooked and raw foods in many parts of the usa better then?

    I’m not aware of any actual restrictions on undercooked or raw foods in the US. Sure, menus have the idiotic warning forced on them by the health nazis that “the consumption of raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, eggs or unpasteurized milk may increase your risk of foodborne illness,” but the fact that the warning is there means that the menu has all of these, too. Sushi, oysters, etc.

    The only time I ever refrained from having a steak tartare in New York was a number of years ago, when we had an outbreak of food poisoning (e.coli) from organic spinach. The menu had steak tartare with spinach salad and I figured that the raw meat and the raw egg were one thing, but having the spinach was just asking for it. So I went with something cooked. Steak frites, as I recall. Rare. With acrylamides.

  37. In Germany, raw minced pork with a bit of onion in a sandwich is not an uncommon thing. You can buy it quite freely in the canteen-type cafeteria in Alexanderplatz, it’s not a posh esoteric thing.

    I was kind of surprised, in England the bureaucrats would have a heart attack!

  38. There’s another one out today that a single cheeseburger gives you liver failure or some such hysterical bullshit. Can’t be arsed to find the link; it’s too fucking stupid to credit. These shits cry wolf all the time and people just tune them out, but if the stupid fucking FSA (which should have been given a Punic Wars-style treatment a long time back) is on the case then regulations there will be.

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