Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: a fifth of food samples contain unstated allergens

All the news, reviews and trends from January 25-26, including roundups of the best vegan burgers, vegan retail products and mushroom-based meat alternatives.

26 January 2020
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Food news

20% of food tests reveal undeclared allergens

A fifth of food samples taken over the past three years included undeclared allergens, according to a Times report. At the same time, the number of people working in food safety in local councils has fallen, meaning fewer retail products and restaurant dishes are being checked.


Iceland consulting on staff cuts

Following news that Morrisons and Sainsbury's are preparing to shed managerial staff, it has emerged that Iceland may be readying for a similar move, in an effort to reduce its debt pile.


Meat patch gimmick claims to help with bacon cravings

Professor Charles Spence has developed a bacon patch with frozen veg company Strong Roots designed to help people curb their meat cravings. It is being promoted by reality TV star Tommy Fury.

US ambassador pushes chlorine-washed chicken again

The US ambassador to Britain has written an open letter arguing that the UK government should approve chlorine-washed chicken imports, saying that it is an effective a way to kill bacteria and that the Food Standards Agency has already approved antimicrobial washes for pre-washed salads.


Teens call for traffic lights on pack

Bite Back 30, a campaign group led by teenagers and with ambassadors like Jamie Oliver and model David Gandy, is calling for mandatory traffic light labelling on food packaging in the UK.


Haribo launches legal challenge against alcohol gummy business

Haribo is suing a Spanish start-up that makes alcohol-infused bear sweets, claiming that the appearance of the gummies infringes its trademark.


Food trends

The troubles with veganism

The Sunday Times has an array of vegan-focused articles to mark the final weekend of Veganuary, taking a critical look at the burgeoning category. One highlights the additives present in some meat alternatives that are also used in the manufacture of antifreeze and paint, while another finds that vegan products are often nutritionally inferior compared to their meat-containing counterparts – the exceptions being Linda McCartney's rosemary sausages, Naked Glory's vegan mince and Innocent's almond milk. The newspaper has also rounded up its picks of the 30 best-tasting vegan items on supermarket shelves, including Higgidy’s aubergine and spinach masala pie, M&S Plant Kitchen’s No Chicken Kiev and the bacon alternative from This, with a special shout out for Ginsters’ vegan Cornish pasty.

Best vegan burgers

Sticking with a similar theme, The Evening Standard has put together its 10-strong list of the best vegan burgers in London, including meat-free patties from Biff’s Jack Shack, The Vurger Co., Patty & Bun, Temple of Seitan and Club Mexicana at the Spread Eagle.


Mushroom mania

Veganism is driving the sale of exotic mushrooms, including the brown oyster cluster, king oyster and shiitake varieties, which can function as alternatives to meat, writes The Guardian. Tesco has seen sales of brown oyster cluster and king oyster mushrooms shoot up nearly 240% year on year, while general mushrooms sales at Marks & Spencer and Waitrose have gone up 25% and 16% respectively.


Food interviews

Pat Bingley and Glyn Gordon, co-owners of fermented food specialists Eaten Alive

“Fermentation is the mega trend of this century,” Pat Bingley tells The Times Tony Turnbull, in between feeding him fermented sriracha and fermented chocolate barbecue sauce. “To get all this flavour into foods without just adding extra dairy fat, which forms the basis of most fine dining, has really gained momentum. It partly fits into a health trend, but mainly it’s about delivering that extra complexity of flavour.”

Elspeth Macdonald, CEO of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation

“It will be for the UK to decide who can catch fish in UK waters,” says Elspeth McDonald, head of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, as she looks forward to the end of the Common Fisheries Policy. “That does not mean no foreign boats will be allowed in, just that the British government will be dictating the terms under which they do so – and keeping them out if that is the final decision.” At present, 60% of fish caught in the North Sea are hauled by the UK’s fishing competitors.


Food reviews

Best reviewed restaurants of the last 12 months

The Telegraph rounds up all its top reviews from the past year. Richard Corrigan's Daffodil Mulligan and Douglas McMaster's Silo are the only five-star restaurants, while Italian spots Emilia and Gloria, Japanese eateries Robata and Akira, and Selfridges’ new Brasserie of Light all score 4/5. 


Shibden Mill Inn, Halifax

“Curls of cod skin, puffed up from a vigorous ride through the deep-fat fryer and offered up alongside a pot of crème fraîche mixed in with enough grated horseradish to tickle the nostrils” – this could be an early contender for the snack of 2020, according to Jay Rayner, who also tucks into a “glazed slab of beef short rib with both soft rings of smoked onion and onion that has been pickled in the acidity of HP Sauce” and a “precise oblong of an iced apple parfait with scattered pieces of sweet frangipane, candied almonds and blackberry sorbet.”


Neat Burger, London W1B 2LE

Marina O’Loughlin uses a visit to Lewis Hamilton’s vegan restaurant to go on a rant about “uncanny valley” meat alternatives, which here are made from a mix of soy and pea protein.

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