Week on a Plate

The week digested: Taco Bell re-enters London and Morrisons heads for Supreme Court

Catch up on the food news from October 22-26, including the latest on plastic bans, how self-ordering kiosks helped McDonald’s profits and GBK’s insolvency process.

26 October 2018
Brexitfast foodlabellingorganicplasticpricingsalt

Making minced meat of Brexit

Around 55% of all beef consumed in the UK is mince, so the fact that Brexit could lead to prices doubling is pretty bad news. Britain eats more than twice as much beef as it produces and is highly reliant on imports. Arla, the Scandinavian food producer, also said products such as Lurpak butter could be 30% to 40% more expensive in a no-deal scenario.


The Beast terrorises Christmas

In more pricing problems, analysis by the Times has found that the cost of the key ingredients for a traditional Christmas dinner has soared partly due to the Beast from the East earlier this year.


Trashing plastic

The EU Parliament has backed a ban of single-use plastics, including items such as straws, cotton swabs, disposable plates and cutlery, by 2021, while 90% of plastic bottles must be recyclable by 2025. It is urging the UK to get on board regardless of Brexit, though the government has already discussed plans to ban plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds within a year.


McDonald’s revamps help sales

The boss of McDonald’s in Britain has vowed to not get distracted by Brexit or inflation after sales in the UK, France and Germany helped to offset a slowdown in the US, with its low-price Saver Menu and its McCafé coffee range continuing to perform well in Britain. To counteract declining American sales, the fast-food giant is in the process of revamping its outlets with self-ordering kiosks, free-to-use tablets and phone chargers – as it has already done in the UK, Italy and Canada.

image credit: Getty Images

Seaweed shortage
In other McDonald’s news, the British arm of the business is working on plans to phase out plastic lids as part of its ambition to be 100% recyclable by 2020, but is being held up by an insufficient supply of seaweed – biodegradable lids made from the marine vegetable could decompose as quickly as a piece of fruit.


Taco break

American fast-food chain Taco Bell will return to London for the first time since the 90s with a string of new branches.


Four-day weeks

The four-day week is gaining traction among restaurants aiming to offer a better work-life balance for chefs.


GBK initiates CVA

Gourmet Burger Kitchen has become the latest restaurant group to start an insolvency process, cutting outlets in an attempt to survive on the high street. Nearly a fifth of sites are in jeopardy.


Gene ban endangers supply chain

Dozens of research institutes have warned that a European court ruling that severely restricts the use of a revolutionary gene-editing technique to create new crops will jeopardise the continent’s ability to feed itself.


Worth their salt?

Many processed meat-free alternatives, seen by some as a healthier option, are exceeding maximum recommended salt levels, with some containing more salt than seawater, Action on Salt has warned.

image credit: Getty Images

Takeaways take over

The concentration of takeaways has risen by more than a third in the past eight years with 61 outlets per 100,000 people, raising concerns about obesity.


Digesting microplastics

Microplastics have been found in human stools for the first time, according to a study, suggesting the tiny particles may be widespread in the human food chain – but researchers aren’t sure what this means for human health.


Does organic eating prevent cancer?

People who eat organic food are 25% less likely to get cancer, according to a study of almost 70,000 volunteers, though this could be attributed to overall lifestyle differences between those who opt for organic and those who don’t, rather than direct cause and effect.

image credit: Getty Images

Patisserie Valerie’s internal investigation

Leading investors in Patisserie Valerie want Luke Johnson, chairman of the troubled cafe chain, to give up control of an internal investigation into a £40m hole in its accounts over concerns that the review is not sufficiently independent.


Morrisons takes case to Supreme Court

Morrisons is headed for the Supreme Court to argue against its culpability in the leak of over 100,000 employees’ data, after the Court of Appeal upheld an original ruling that the retailer was responsible for the breach. If it loses the case, the supermarket chain could be forced to pay compensation to affected staff.


Donating dinner

FareShare, the UK’s largest charity fighting food waste and hunger, is launching a new campaign, Good Food Does Good, to encourage more businesses to make their surplus food available.


Cannabis on menus

Farm Girl has introduced a matcha hot chocolate to their menu that contains cannabis oil, jumping on the trend for the ingredient’s alleged health benefits.


The social supermarket

There may be more than 100 social supermarkets around the UK, as low-income households turn to these heavily discounted shops to pick up essentials.


Labelling laws

A review into labelling laws is on the cards, with the possibility that reformed regulations could come into effect as early as next summer, the parents of a teenager who died after eating a Pret a Manger sandwich have said after a meeting with environment secretary Michael Gove.

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