Helen Martin: Food police cook up a recipe for disaster

Will the FSS try to ban the Great British Bake Off from Scottish TV screens

Will the FSS try to ban the Great British Bake Off from Scottish TV screens

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THE developing communist-style control being imposed on Scotland hit new levels last week with the latest proposals from Food Standards Scotland, the body appointed by the government to be our food watchdog.

Already they have done everything possible to stop us having access to some of the country’s best cheeses, because they are made of unpasteurised milk. They have dismissed the results of safety tests carried out in France – the global home of gourmet unpasteurised cheeses – as being “inappropriate” for Scotland. Pourquoi? Because they don’t want to be proved wrong.

An artist's impression of the Scottish National Gallery extension's foyer

An artist's impression of the Scottish National Gallery extension's foyer

But their latest ideas would be laughable if they weren’t so horrifyingly dictatorial.

They have decided they are in charge of Scotland’s unhealthy diet and growing obesity. Before the sugar tax has even had time to bite, they have launched a plan that makes Stalin look like a gentle democrat.

The FSS now says it is “essential” that restaurant meals are calorie-capped, menus state calorie counts on each dish, and portions served must be reduced.

New food outlets are to be restricted in number, and bakeries, restaurants and other food businesses must stop “sensory stimuli” (that’s the appetising smells of their produce and cooking) wafting out onto the street! Without Harry Potter, all the venting and deodorising systems in the world will struggle with that – after all, customers will have to open the door to get in and out!

Who do these people – assuming the FSS is actually staffed by human beings and not a malfunctioning, computerised robot – think they are?

Their crazy wish-list carries impacts way beyond what and how much we eat. Limiting new outlets restricts the economy and the number of jobs available. Creating such unappetising rules around restaurants (for which Edinburgh has often been rated second only to London in terms of quality) could also affect jobs, income and tourist appeal.

The costs incurred by every business from small artisan bakeries to pizza parlours and Michelin-starred restaurants could soar if they have to face challenges such as trapping food smells – one of their best marketing tools. Not to mention the dangerous and devastating effect on those suffering eating disorders such as anorexia.

And why target food served outside the home, prepared by professionals, rather than concentrating on the rubbish people who can’t or won’t cook stuff themselves with at home?

Perhaps that’s the next, as yet unannounced part of their strategy.

Fast-forward to the future and the FSS may have installed CCTV in the kitchens of all citizens so that fines can be imposed on home bakers. Baking sales for charity fundraising could be banned and the Great British Bake Off may be blocked from Scottish TV screens.

Sweet shops could be boarded up, Kettle Chips outlawed, real dairy ice-cream banned, tablet and fudge makers closed down and fish and chip shops consigned to history.

The FSS is seriously over-stepping its mark and if the Scottish government backs this ridiculous plan, its dictatorial attitude to the people (already causing controversy with the named person scheme) will become more evident.

Fighting obesity is a matter of persuading people to eat less, exercise more and eat wisely. It’s about people making the correct choices, not removing all options. As history has shown, prohibition and control does not work.

Dictating where, what and how much people eat is what we expect from North Korea, not a public service in Scotland.

Saved from another costly blunder

THE project to extend the National Galleries of Scotland into Princes Street Gardens has been under way for many years.

Now, the realisation that it will cost way over the £17million estimate has halted it in its tracks days before its planned commencement.

Sensibly, it’s back to the drawing board to find a way to bring it in on budget.

The project is being funded by the Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund, hence the thorough investigation of costs and the willingness to look again at the design and specification and bring it back to the original estimate.

We can be thankful it wasn’t being funded by the City of Edinburgh Council. And curious that these responsible checks, balances and revisions didn’t happen with the trams.

We’ve all go to die of something

DON’T panic at the latest Scottish Government figures showing heart and cancer deaths falling, but the numbers dying from dementia rising by 60 per cent in three years.

The rise in dementia is a direct result of medical advances in treating heart disease and cancer.

The longer we all live, the higher risk we face of Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia and other conditions leading to loss of cognitive ability.

Perhaps one day, cure or prevention will be discovered . . . and what then will become the major cause of elderly death?

Meanwhile the only thing we can do is invest billions in high quality social care and nursing homes.

We could start by cutting the £12 billion that goes in foreign aid to countries including India, China and corrupt regimes. Currently our elderly are being sacrificed to support countries far wealthier than our own.

No laughing matter, Theresa

I have something in common with Theresa May. Neither of us should ever smile if someone’s taking a photograph.

Fortunately I’m not a PM, or a person whose photo is of interest to anyone bar friends and family. But surely she has advisers brave enough to tell her Budget Day guffawing makes her look like a mad Cruella De Vil.