Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: Bidfood's vegetable-based Brexit plan and inadequate allergen labelling

The news, reviews and trends from September 29-30, including the Times list of Britain's best restaurants and the species of pea scientists are backing as a future food source.

1 October 2018
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Food news

Does Brexit mean more meat-free meals?

Food supplier Bidfood has spoken to customers about including more veg items on menus, amid fears it will not be able to secure enough meat if there is a no-deal Brexit. “We’re looking at where we could switch to different products that are UK sourced,” Bidfood CEO Andrew Selley told the Guardian, noting, “A lot of meat products like chicken in the UK come from Holland and Poland.” Bidfood is also preparing to stockpile produce if no deal between Britain and the EU is reached by Christmas. 


Reading the Tesco tea leaves 

With Tesco set to reveal its half-year results on Wednesday, a fair few column inches this weekend have been dedicated to reading the tea leaves. The Telegraph writes that “analysts are expecting operating profit to climb 13% to £1bn for the half year, as the royal wedding, World Cup and summer heatwave bolstered sales,” noting that the acquisition of Booker will also provide a boost. The Sunday Timesmeanwhile, highlights that Tesco’s total sales grew 1.9% over the summer, “just half the growth rate of the wider supermarket industry.”


Reforming allergen labelling

Another hot topic of conversation over the weekend was the death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered a fatal allergic reaction to a Pret A Manger baguette in 2016. A coroner investigating the case called Pret’s allergy labelling "inadequate," prompting a wave of articles criticising allergen labelling at a number of high street chains. The Times examined packaging and staff training at Costa, Subway, Itsu and Pret, noting: “If you have a deadly allergy it is not always simple to find out which products could kill you in high street stores.” Its Sunday edition reported that Pret’s owner JAB has backed CEO Clive Schlee to remain at the helm while criticising the “inadequate laws” in place to keep consumers safe.


The sweet and the sour

While sales of sourdough are on the rise, most loaves sold in the UK’s supermarkets do not contain the correct ingredients, reports the Telegraph. The article refers to a Which? investigation that found only four out of 19 sourdoughs examined were authentically made, while the others contained ingredients designed to speed up the baking process, including yeast and ascorbic acid. Traditionally, sourdough should only contain flour, water, salt and a starter culture, but it is not a protected product, so manufacturers can put whatever they like in their versions.

image credit: Rawpixel/Getty Images

Here’s a tip

Theresa May is set to announce a ban on restaurants taking staff tips, according to the Guardian. The new regulations are designed to prevent owners making deductions from tips and will be formally revealed today, though when they will come into effect has yet to be stated. Bella Italia, Giraffe and Pizza Express have all been accused of taking a percentage of tips previously, but have since abandoned the practice.


Scottish women rule the kitchen

Female chefs are leading the way when it comes to innovative cooking in Scotland, according to the Observer. The article points to Pam Brunton’s Inver, Rosie Healey’s Alchemilla and Julie Lin MacLeod’s Julie’s Kopitiam as places where women are heading up the next generation of restaurants.

image credit: Inver

Retail sales increase

Despite a small dip in retail sales from July to August, people are still buying more than they did this time last year, according to the Central Statistics Office. The Times reports that sales in August were up 2.6% compared to 2017, while the first eight months of 2018 showed an average increase of 3.4% on the same period last year.


Pea break

The grass pea is high in protein, drought resistant, can survive floods and has chemical ways of improving its environment to enhance growth. It’s also toxic and has a reputation for causing paralysis. Thanks to scientists at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, however, it could soon be making its way into our diets. The researchers are working on a way to breed a low-toxin version of the pea, according to the Times, with an eye to expanding its consumption both in the UK and abroad.


Food trends

Britain's best restaurants

The Times’ food critics Marina O’Loughlin and Giles Coren are releasing their list of the best 100 restaurants in the UK. The first half was revealed yesterday and included Spanish tapas favourite Barrafina, Peruvian trendsetter Ceviche and Chinese innovator A Wong in London, as well as Liverpool’s Wreckfish, Kentish pub The Sportsman and the St Albans branch of sustainable fish restaurant Lussmanns.


Food reviews

Rovi, London W1A 3AE

Where once Yotam Ottolenghi was setting the trends, now it appears he’s following them, writes Jay Rayner. Live fire, fermentation and Japanese influences suffuse the menu at Rovi, which pairs back the ingredients but still promotes veg-forward items. “Sweetheart cabbage has been slow roasted until it has collapsed into louche, buttery petals,” while the celeriac shawarma topped with crispy onions and served with fermented chilli on the side is “a killer idea, brilliantly executed."

image credit: Rovi

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