Modern regulation

Lidl’s just recalled all tinned herring from its branches because the labels don’t warn consumers that it contains fish.

Yes, really.

Apparently, the budget supermarket’s Herring Fillets were being sold without warning customers that it contains certain allergens.
These are milk, egg, mustard, gluten – and fish.
According to Food Standards Agency rules, possible allergens must be written, in English, on all food products.

Sigh.

26 thoughts on “Modern regulation”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    I have eaten some herring recently that would have surprised me if they had a warning that they contained fish.

    That is why I usually buy Danish herring these days.

  2. I have a theory about the productivity problem in the UK (and elsewhere). No, wait, it is to do with this post!

    It is simply that there is now so much government regulation with which we all have to spend time and money complying, that this is now beginning to show through in actual productivity figures. The growth in red tape is simply outstripping the growth in productivity.

    Now you can argue that productivity just is a crude measure of economic factors, and that red tape actually brings intangible benefits, mostly in terms of some recently invented yuman rites.

    Nonetheless, it would be good to make clear to politicians that each time they invent some new regulation, means business must divert resources to complying (and taxes be spent on monitoring that it does, in fact, comply) – and therefore this makes the economy less productive.

  3. In addition to the obvious fish content, the linked article reports Lidl as stating the cans also contain (unlabelled) eggs and wheat. It is not obvious to me that filleting requires the addition of egg or of wheat.

    Sadly, I have both neighbours and family who suffer from Coeliac disease (intolerance to gluten, as found in wheat). It is definitely no joke for them to eat wheat, even in small/trace quantities. So labelling of any wheat content is important for them.

    That people (seemingly) buy and eat stuff where they do not know the dominant content (is fish) is rather a different matter – as it is with peanuts. Out of interest, I have just checked the milk and eggs in my fridge (one container of each). Though each is labelled (respectively with milk and eggs): the eggs have no list whatsoever of content/ingredients; the milk lists (effectively with weights per unit volume) salt, fat and several other things – but not milk.

    Following on from Tim’s article today at the ASI (The government is killing 80,000 people a year apparently), I wonder how many immigrants are dying of allergic reactions because they don’t read English. Where are the people calling for ‘something to be done’?

    Best regards

  4. This is really a story about how people are taken in by headlines purportedly about silly things.

    The headline “Lidl recalls tinned fish because labels don’t warn that cans may contain milk, egg, mustard, & gluten” would be far less attention-grabbing.

  5. “I wonder how many immigrants are dying of allergic reactions because they don’t read English”

    I don’t see what can be done about that, apart from immigrants reading English (or even learning to read).

  6. Jerry Pournelle often stated that rather than printing money to get us out of the downturn, the state should just double the limits that regulations kick in, i.e. if you are required to fill in x forms once you business employs more than 10 people, make the threshhold 20 people. The boost in productivity would be immense.

  7. Bloke in Germany

    @MattyJ,

    Because if you’re keeping them long enough to need to put them in the fridge you’re buying too many at once.

  8. @BiG: I buy 6 eggs. I place the carton in the fridge. I eat one every now and then. Apparently this is weird?

    Is this some English cultural thing that I’ve not noticed before? I would never have considered placing the eggs anywhere other than the fridge.

  9. IIRC British Lion eggs are vaccinated against Salmonella, so they don’t require refrigeration but most American eggs are not vaccinated so refrigeration is advised.

    If you do refrigerate eggs, keep them in their carton on a shelf inside the fridge, don’t take them out of the carton and put them in the egg trays in the door of the fridge.

  10. So fish has to contain a warning that it contains fish yet products that contain coal tar derivatives* don’t need anything. What a wonderful world we live in.

    *If you had the reaction I do then you would be very careful to avoid them as well. I don’t know if the ADHDPTSD claims are true but I do know if I have red 40(allura red) I need to be near a bathroom for several days.

  11. So fish has to contain a warning that it contains fish [and other allergens]

    In the UK, yes.

    yet products that contain coal tar derivatives* don’t need anything. … red 40(allura red) I

    The European Union requires the presence of that additive to be recorded on the label. It is banned in some European countries.

  12. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Eggs? Pah! I have to refrigerate bread. It goes green within 36 hours otherwise, flour preservers or no. Eggs go straight in the fridge and come out to warm up half an hour before they’re needed.

  13. “The European Union requires the presence of that additive to be recorded on the label. It is banned in some European countries.”

    It is on the label. Many times buried in a long list of sub-ingredients. Why this is good enough for one allergen and not others is beyond me. All I know is that I can’t eat most items in the grocery store.

  14. On the whether to fridge eggs or not, I’m told it depends where you live. European eggs are not washed, so the shell membrane remains intact & the egg looks after itself, as far as bacteria penetration’s concerned. Don’t need fridgeing.The US washes eggs, thus harming the membrane, so must be kept at a low temperature to reduce chances of contamination.

  15. @agn, May 1, 2016 at 10:10 am

    +1

    Best comment winner.

    @Nigel Sedgwick, May 1, 2016 at 10:14 am

    “In addition to the obvious fish content, the linked article reports Lidl as stating the cans also contain (unlabelled) eggs and wheat. It is not obvious to me that filleting requires the addition of egg or of wheat.”

    Look at the picture and read the words on the tins. Eggs and wheat inclusion explained now?

    @MattyJ, May 1, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    “@BiG: I buy 6 eggs. I place the carton in the fridge. I eat one every now and then. Apparently this is weird?”

    In UK all my relatives and I keep eggs in their box in fridge. Chefs in parents’ UK hotels kept eggs in cold room.

    For me it is convenience: where else to store them? Cupboards: tiined goods, dry goods, coffee&hotchoc&tea-etc, herbs&spices&condiments, under-sink…

    As an aside, two poached eggs for lunch today – label use/best date is 6 Nov 2015, one egg in the 6-box remains.

    @Bloke in Costa Rica May 1, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    “Eggs? Pah! I have to refrigerate bread. It goes green within 36 hours otherwise”

    Same here, although green is ~5 days.

  16. agn said:
    “would be good to make clear to politicians that each time they invent some new regulation, means business must divert resources to complying”

    And more resources to create a process and paperwork to prove to the regulators that they are complying, otherwise they’ll be fined even if they haven’t done anything wrong.

  17. agn‘s theory would be a good one, were it not for the fact that the countries against which the UK is often compared to produce a ‘productivity gap’ include France and Germany, neither of which are noted for their lack of red tape and other government interference. In reality, productivity (as measured by economists) depends on GDP, which (as we all know) is a meaningless number invented to keep government statisticians happy.

  18. If you do refrigerate eggs, keep them in their carton on a shelf inside the fridge, don’t take them out of the carton and put them in the egg trays in the door of the fridge.

    Eh, why?

  19. If you don’t keep tomato ketchup in the fridge here (Thailand) it ferments. Eggs and bread, absolutely. Bread goes green in a couple of days and eggs thicken and go rubbery as the water evaporates. Oh, and muesli, because the ants like it and the fridge is the only place they can’t get in to.

    You temperate zone people have no idea.

  20. @Chris Miller:

    No, I wasn’t making a point about the “productivity gap” between the UK and other countries. The productivity increase in all countries has fallen off its historical trend – the red tape point is equally valid for other countries.

    The point is that red tape does have a cost and it is showing up exactly where it might be expected to: in reduced productivity (as calculated with reference to economic output only).

    (However, nothing in this comment shall be interpreted to mean that the UK does not have a “gold-plating” problem with EU-wide regulations.)

  21. I was told the reason behind the “may contain nuts” warning on packets of peanuts.

    Apparently peanuts are not actually nuts (they’re a type of bean) and so people may be able to eat safely peanuts but have an allergic reaction to true nuts. But because they are regarded as a similar product, peanuts and true nuts are often processed and packaged in the same factory, so there is likely to be cross-contamination.

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