Week on a Plate

The week digested: World’s 50 Best Restaurants revealed and Uber Eats delivered blow by BBC investigation

Catch up on the food news from June 24-28, including Tesco’s advances in checkout-free tech and junk food's link to low sperm count.

28 June 2019
deliveryhealthfast foodrestaurantssupermarketstechnology

And the world’s number-one restaurant is...

The World's Best 50 Restaurants have been announced with two UK restaurants ranking: Clove Club at 27 and Lyle's at 33. The top spot was taken by French restaurant Mirazur, with Noma in Copenhagen landing second place with its new venue and new menu.


Uber Eats delivered blow by BBC investigation

A BBC reporter has found Uber Eats is registering people to sell food on its platform without identity checks or providing a hygiene rating. It even unearthed one operator cooking a burger on a sooty barbecue in his front yard next to a waste bin.


Leon co-founder tapped to review British food system

Henry Dimbleby has been appointed to lead a review of the British food system to determine a future national strategy, with the report due in 2020. The farm-to-fork study will explore issues surrounding the environment, agriculture, health and the responsibilities of supermarkets and restaurants. The Leon co-founder’s brief includes how to provide safe and affordable food post-Brexit, the impact of climate change and the sustainability of the supply chain and jobs.


Salad savings for fast-food joints

Restaurants and cafes will receive discounts on business rates if they include healthy options under new government proposals to combat obesity. The initiative is one of several being trialled by councils at the moment that could be rolled out nationwide if successful. Others include banning planning permission for places that only serve junk food and giving retailers who offer healthy food will receive preferred rates for advertising.


Insect eats  a future £6bn industry?

Still feeling sceptical about buy bites? Well, a report by Barclays may change your mind. Research by the bank suggests the insect protein market will be worth £6bn by 2030. “We see scope for insects to reduce the environmental burden of our food system,” said Emily Morrison, one of the authors of the report by Barclays. “Although there are numerous hurdles to overcome – notably regulation, price and cultural acceptance – we see insects as a viable middle ground for consumers wanting to make their diets more sustainable.”


Tesco invests in tech to compete with Amazon

Tesco is reportedly developing checkout-free technology in partnership with Israeli start-up Trigo Vision. Displayed at an Express store earlier this month, it would allow customers to shop and leave without encountering a till, thanks to an AI camera network and sensors to detect when people have picked items off shelves and put them in their baskets. Like Amazon Go, the system would automatically charge them via stored card details as they depart.


Junk food trashes sperm count

By the time men reach 18, their sperm count can be irreversibly damaged by junk food, according to research by Harvard University. The study found that teenagers who gorge on high-fat and processed foods kill sperm-producing cells that can never be replaced. Products like pizza and chips are believed to starve these cells of oxygen, resulting in their death.

image credit: Getty Images

Feathers fly as poultry producer is accused of animal mistreatment

Secret footage filmed by Animal Equality at three Moy Park farms in Lincolnshire show chickens that are lame, struggling to breathe and surrounded by dead birds. There is no suggestion that Moy Park has broken the law, but with the company supplying 30% of the British market, including Ocado, Tesco and Sainsbury's, the supermarkets have now said they are investigating their supply chains. Red Tractor previously inspected the farms in the last three months and found them to be failing to meet the minimum standards for animal welfare. Moy Park said it was fully investigating the allegations raised by the footage.


Kerry shutters factory after Tesco decides not to renew contract 

Kerry Foods' Burton-upon-Trent site is set to close in September, after the company lost a contract to supply ready meals to Tesco. Around 900 jobs are thought to be at risk.


Fridges could power National Grid

Trials by Tesco and the University of Lincoln have found supermarket freezers could power the National Grid as a virtual battery. Software can temporarily cut the electricity supply to fridges but still keep the food cold to offset any dips in the grid’s energy frequency.


Listeria investigation clears sandwich maker

Sandwich maker Good Food Chain has been cleared of responsibility for the listeria outbreak that killed five hospital patients. “Our investigations are now focused on where the outbreak strain originated from and subject to strict verification and ongoing monitoring by Stafford Borough Council, the Good Food Chain company is now able to restart production,” said the Food Standards Agency’s chief operating officer, Colin Sullivan.


Pizza Express looks to ‘game-changing insights’ to counter casual dining slump

Like-for-like sales at Pizza Express fell 2% last year, as pre-tax losses rose from £28.7m to £55m. The chain operates 627 restaurants globally, though most of its sites are in the UK and Ireland. CEO Jinlong Wang put a bright spin on the future, however, saying; “I would describe 2018 as a transformational year during which we invested in significant customer-led research to help us develop potentially game-changing insights which will enable our growth in the mid to long-term.”


Coffee giant in fresh tax tiff

Starbucks’ UK-based European business paid £18.3m in tax last year but sent back £348m in royalty payments to the parent company in Seattle for use of the brand, prompting renewed criticism that the coffee brand is cheating the system.


Coffee cuts calories

A cup of black instant coffee could help people burn more calories, researchers have found. It is hypothesised that this may be due to something called ‘brown fat,’ a substance that produces heat and is usually activated when the body is cold, but also seems to be stimulated by caffeine.

image credit: Getty Images

Co-op goes compostable for Glasto

Co-op is launching 10 sandwiches in 100% compostable packaging at Glastonbury Festival, which it claims is a first for a national retailer.


Posh tea time

Sales of posh tea, particularly loose leaf and single estate, are seeing double-digit growth, as millennials seek out new experiences and people look for alternatives to booze. The rising popularity is also due the trend for pairing teas with food.


Cake Box has successful first year on stock exchange

Egg-free cakes fuelled a 33% growth in revenues for Cake Box, as the brand celebrated its first year on London’s junior stock exchange with pre-tax profits of £3.8m for the year to March. The brand is targeting 250 stores, up from its current total of 113.


China’s corn crop in peril

While China continues to struggle with a swine fever epidemic, the nation’s food production is also being hit by an outbreak of fall armyworm, a creature that devastates corn crops. China is the second-largest producer of corn in the world, so if the infestation spread food prices are likely to be affected.


Oysters return to the Thames

In an attempt to boost shellfish production in the UK, oysters will be reintroduced to the Thames estuary in Essex. The mollusc population in the English river has declined by 95% over the past 200 years.

image credit: Getty Images

Gadget gourmand

The Guardian follows a woman’s journey eating food cooked by tech in San Francisco, including a coffee conjured up by an electronic barista, a bot-made burger, robot ramen, a bread vending machine and automated pizza delivery.


Heston Blumenthal’s latest obsession

The Telegraph speaks to Heston Blumenthal about work and family in an interview that digs into the chef’s new obsession with water – “the single most important ingredient in the kitchen” – and the near-finished kitchen lab designed to let him experiment with the substance.


Hate queuing for a restaurant? There’s an app for that

A new app called WalkIn has been created to allow diners to queue remotely for restaurants that don't accept reservations, including Padella, Flat Iron and Din Tai Fung. The creators claim 125,000 people are using the app each month, with users able to join the queue for some restaurants when they are 2km away.


Secret to The Ivy’s success

The Times profiles maître d’ Fernando Peire from the Ivy, who the paper credits as helping turn the restaurant into one of London’s coolest celebrity haunts.


Greene King revenue rise dampened by increased costs

Greene King's new chief executive has said there are no plans to sell the brewing side of its business, after announcing the company had suffered a 10.7% fall in operating profits in the year to April 28. Revenues grew by 5.8%, but profits were hit by increased costs, pub disposals and lower production volumes. 

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