Week on a Plate

The week digested: Mondelez ad banned under gender stereotyping rules and concerns for Brits' favourite sweets

Catch up on the food news from August 12-16, including the UK’s cauliflower shortage and why major retailers are calling for business tax reforms.

16 August 2019
meat alternativesugarrestaurantssupermarketsvegetables

Supermarkets and chains team up to call for business rate reform

The heads of more than 50 major retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Harrods, Iceland, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons and Greggs, have joined together to call for cuts to business rates and taxes, amid intense pressure from online competitors and the potential the UK is headed into recession. The retail sector accounts for 5% of the British economy yet pays about 25% in business rates. The retailers called for the system to be reformed and a freeze on raising taxes.


New advertising rules on gender stereotyping sees Mondelez ad get nixed

Mondelez-owned Philadelphia cream cheese has had its advertisement banned under new rules introduced in June, which are designed to reduce gender stereotyping. In the ad, two dads were shown eating lunch at a restaurant with a conveyor belt and they become distracted, resulting in one child being whisked away on the belt. Complaints said the ad perpetuated a harmful stereotype suggesting men were incapable of caring for children, while Mondelez argued it was stuck in a no-win situation as it chose two dads to avoid depicting mums as being responsible for childcare. Critics have accused the Advertising Standards Agency of taking on the role of the morality police and said the new rules were too draconian.


Favourite British sweets could be in the firing line

Traditional treats like sherbet lemons and Parma Violets would be impossible to produce if new government recommendations were implemented that require sweets to contain less than 50% of sugar, claims a think-tank. The Institute for Economic Affairs said boiled sweets consist almost entirely of sugar, while sugar accounts for more than half the content of treats like fudge and liquorice allsorts. It accused health officials of treating the public as “infantile” and ignoring consumer tastes and preferences, adding that measures to reduce salt, sugar, fat and calories had led to reformulation of recipes “by stealth” resulting in the taste of products changing without the public knowing. However a quarter of the think tank’s funding comes from big business and in the past, this has included the sugar company Tate & Lyle.


Sugar feeds rise in superbug

A superbug is feeding off human’s sugar rich diets allowing it to evade common hospital disinfectants and spread easily, new research has found. Encouraging people to change their det and ensuring hospital food is healthy and as sugar-free as possible could help prevent infections.


Find high flavonoid foods to protect against cancer and heart disease

Another study has found consuming a diet that has high levels of flavonoids can help protect against cancer and heart disease – particularly among smokers and heavy drinkers. Flavonoids are described as really powerful antioxidants and are found in most plants, with citrus fruits, berries, apples, soy and legumes particularly good sources.


Sweet treats ahead at the London Dessert Festival

The London Dessert Festival will take place this weekend with over 22 vendors offering sweet eats like freak shakes from Miki’s Paradise, Taiwanese treats from Wheelcake Island and frozen yoghurt from Yogland. It will also offer experiences via zones like the Frozen Zone with ice-cream flavoured bubbles, an ice lolly wall, and a nitrogen ice cream machine, while the Patisserie Zone will host a doughnut wall and a piñata filled with baked goods.


Pullet eggs to hit Waitrose shelves

For the first time, Waitrose will sell pullet eggs – which come from hens less than a year old and are considerably smaller than your average egg. As many as 1.5m pullet eggs can be wasted each year as supermarkets won’t buy them from farmers, yet chefs like them because the yolks are richer and the eggs themselves are rounder.

image credit: Getty Images

Asda to help plug electricity blackspots

Asda will use 300 stores and 18 distribution depots as part of a trial to help power the UK's electricity system, which could provide energy to 8,500 homes. It will generate additional revenue for the supermarket chain and could mean its fridges are called on at only 10 minutes’ notice to act as a safety net if there is an unexpected power station outage. Tesco is also undertaking trials by using mini-power cuts to its freezer aisles to help balance the grid.


Costly cauliflowers as weather wreaks havoc with supply

Heavy rains in June in the UK and a heatwave in Europe has caused a severe shortage of cauliflowers, with the wholesale price rising by 400% from 60p to £3. One supplier has told restaurants to drop cauliflower from their menus, despite the vegetable being a popular addition to meet the meat-free demand. It could also affect the supply of brussels sprouts for Christmas.


UK farming sector could be decimated by no-deal Brexit

Half the farms in the UK could close down in the event of a no-deal Brexit due to hefty tariffs and support payments being withdrawn, according to a new report. It also claimed the government would prioritise keeping down food prices for consumers ahead of protecting agricultural producers.


Brits spend billions hoarding for no-deal

Brits have spent £4bn stockpiling goods in preparation for a no-deal Brexit, purchasing food, drinks and medicines, with about 800,000 people forking out £1,000.


Profit boom for Dishoom

Dishoom has bucked the casual dining crunch, posting a 26.3% increase in turnover to £45m in 2018 and pre-tax profits improved to £2.3m up from £874,000. It plans to expand its Covent Garden restaurant into the neighbouring site that previously housed a Jamie’s Italian.


What’s next for food market Mercato Metropolitano?

The Times talks to Andrea Rasca, the founder of London food market Mercato Metropolitano. It has 50 vendors, where every tenant must offer something affordable on the menu and agree to be regularly audited on the quality of their food, ingredients and the nature of their supply chains. Three further sites are being developed, including in Ilford, east London, which has an urban farm on the roof. 


Who makes the tastiest meat-free sausage roll?

The Telegraph taste tests meat-free sausage rolls from Quorn, Tesco, Waitrose, Asda, Greggs and Linda McCartney. The verdict? Its equal first for Greggs, because it tastes just like its meat option, and Linda McCartney, which has the best filling of the lot.


A bargain Michelin meal

The cheapest Michelin-starred meal in the UK out of 151 restaurants can be found at Hackney’s Leroy, where diners can grab a three-course meal for £23. Rounding out the top five are The Ninth, Brat, St John and Kitchen W8, research found.


Beef banished from university campus

A London university has banned beef from being sold on campus and is also introducing a 10p levy on plastic bottles of water and single-use plastic cups. Goldsmiths College said it is working towards being carbon neutral by 2025 as it plans to invest in more allotments and ramp up its recycling programme, which will include students sorting out their unwanted non-perishable food.


Are meat alternatives actually ethically better?

The Telegraph investigates the ethics around meat alternatives – either plant-based or lab-grown – including the use of soya, which is the second biggest driver of deforestation, while it notes that cultured meat is often drawn from foetuses of cows at slaughterhouses.

image credit: Getty Images

New restaurant to offer London’s longest oyster list

Hotel group The Hoxton are opening a rooftop restaurant at its new Southwark location with what it claims will be London’s longest oyster list. The menu has been developed by restaurateurs Joshua Boissy and Krystof Zizka, who are behind New York bar and restaurant Maison Premiere, and will include Cornish plaice a la plancha with Morecambe Bay shrimps and capers, a Basque-style bouillabaisse and plateau de fruits de mer.


Recycling partnership to divert hundreds of thousands of coffee cups from landfill

Train stations, schools and hospitals across the south of England will have coffee cup recycling points installed in a bid to stop 200,000 cups ending up in landfill each year. The points will be placed in 17 sites targeting 100,000 customers and comes from a partnership between Selecta UK, a self-serve coffee and convenience food retailer, and waste management company Veolia. It will break the cups down into pulp to be used in new products like shopping bags and packaging.


Cookbook created to help cancer sufferers reconnect with food

Life Kitchen offers free cooking classes for people living with cancer and their loved ones and is also releasing a 15 recipe booklet this week created in collaboration with the World Cancer Research Fund, which includes dishes like pineapple tacos and miso and tahini chicken. A full length cookery book is expected next year to try and help those with cancer rekindle their love of food, as treatments often impact on people’s ability to taste and smell. Umami is crucial for recipes, as well as a little bit of fat, spice and acidity.


Archers get their own recipe book

Another recipe book comes from an unlikely source – the radio soap opera Archers. Some recipes are taken directly from scenes on the Radio 4 programme and include dishes like chilli con carne, flapjacks and Goan fish curry, while the book also highlights big events in the farming year.


Meera Sodha’s new cookbook

Award winning cookery writer Meera Sodha has released her third book with 120 vegetarian and vegan recipes

image credit: Getty Images

The milkman comes a knocking

As concerns continue to abound about plastics, The Telegraph highlights how the milkman is back but ready for the 21st Century with services booked online and even oat, almond and coconut milk available for delivery. A glass milk bottle can be reused 25 times before it needs to be recycled, while delivery companies are also investing in electric vehicles.


Banana bug devastates last growing area in the world

The banana's future is under threat as a deadly fungal disease has conquered the last remaining area in the world that had avoided it. Colombia has declared a national emergency after farmers found the disease had damaged their crops. One potential solution to the worldwide problem could be to use genetic modification and exploit wild varieties.


Electric shocks to curb binge eating

It might seem extreme but a clinical trial is recruiting for morbidly obese people to test the use of electric shocks, via a microchip implanted beneath the scalp, to see whether it can curb binge eating. The team at Stanford University have previously tested the method on mice and found a shock to the brain’s reward centre could stop the mice from overindulging without affecting their intake of normal food or their behaviour.


Chicken shops drafted in to curb knife crime

The Home Office is being criticised for a new scheme that will roll out to 210 chicken shop outlets and will supply more than 310,000 boxes branded with #knifefree. Chains participating include Morley’s, Dixy Chicken and Chicken Cottage in England and Wales, following a pilot at 15 branches of Morley’s in March. Stories about young people who followed interests like boxing and music, rather than carrying a knife, will also be printed inside the boxes, but Labour MPs have accused the government of stereotyping young black people with the move.


Meatopia teams up with social enterprise to give trainee chefs experience

Food festival Meatopia has teamed up with Beyond Food, a social enterprise that trains the disadvantaged to become chefs. With a line-up that includes Amninder Sandhu of Mumbai’s Arth, American Bryan Furman – Georgia’s king of barbecue, and burgers from Singapore pop-up Rosita’s Deluxe – the trainees will gain experience helping out the stars of the show.

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