Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: shopkeeper safety is not police priority and the UK’s impure honey

The news, reviews and trends from March 30-31, including criticism of artisan claims and a new book on eating for longevity.

1 April 2019
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Food news

Shopkeeper safety is not a priority for the police

"Shop theft has been effectively decriminalised,” according to the chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, who says that shopkeepers “are seeing more people coming in with weapons, most commonly knives but also hammers and even syringes." James Lowman alleges that police have effectively given robbers “carte blanche” because officers are often no longer sent to investigate such crimes, while penalty fines are ineffective at discouraging the perpetrators, who often simply don’t pay. “Recent figures suggested there are now almost 10,000 assaults on retail staff every year, with attackers becoming increasingly violent,” writes The Telegraph, highlighting the case last week of a shopkeeper who was stabbed to death.


Artisan claims questioned

The Sunday Times has accused some brands of misleading consumers by labelling their products as artisan – implying “traditional, non-industrial methods – when in fact they are mass-produced in a factory. The paper singles out Warburtons, Finnebrogue, Fry’s and The Artisan Bread Company as among those cashing in on the consumer interest in artisanal foods, despite their products containing preservatives and other commercial additives.


Funny honey

Impure honey is rife in the UK, according to the Food Standards Agency, which has issued alerts to retailers and suppliers. New tests conducted on samples by German lab GoodQS suggest everyone from Tesco to Waitrose may be unwittingly selling own-label honey that contains added sugar, colours and preservatives, writes The Sunday Times. Only 10% of honey consumed in the UK is domestic.

image credit: Getty Images

Business rate rise to hit online retailers

In what The Financial Times describes as a “small step forward,” the government will begin assessing the rents paid by warehouses this week. These rents will be tied to business rates from 2021 onwards, which is expected to mean higher bills for online operators that work out of distribution centres and a drop in costs for high street retailers. “Even so, it will be a long time before the rates burden for online businesses is comparable to that of high street stores,” notes the FT.


When is an antibiotic not an antibiotic?

Despite cutting the use of antibiotics by 80% since 2013, British poultry producers are still using “hundreds of tons” of these medicines on their chickens, writes The Sunday Times. This is because ionophores, which are functionally antibiotics, are classified as feed additives, as Countryfile yesterday revealed on BBC1. Ionophores are said not to produce the same kind of bacterial resistance as other antibiotics; however, others have claimed their use leaves residue in chickens that is toxic to humans.


Hakkasan throws out board

Upscale Chinese chain Hakkasan has replaced its board following pre-tax losses of $44m in the 12 months to June. While the losses were down from $146m the previous year, revenue has remained flat at $309m, points out The Telegraph.

image credit: Hakkasan

Food interviews

Dr Steven Gundry, author of The Longevity Paradox and The Plant Paradox

What’s the key to living a long, healthy life? Eating for your microbiome, according to Dr Steven Gundry, who recently released a book on the subject entitled The Longevity Paradox. The doctor-author’s previous work, The Plant Paradox, advised people to avoid lectins and caused a furore amongst consumers. In an interview with The Times, his top tips for long life are to undergo a five-day vegan ‘fast’ monthly, eat lots of olive oil, drink red wine daily, consume prebiotics over probiotics, skip dinner once a week and imbibe cups and cups of green tea.


Food reviews

EartH Kitchen, London N16 8BH

“Anyone who eats around will recognise in certain key references – to ox heart or wild garlic, to Swaledale lamb or capers or hefty British cheeses – the butter-smeared palm prints of Fergus Henderson’s St John,” Jay Rayner says of this new spot, located within Evolutionary Arts Hackney. The most expensive dish you’ll find at this modestly priced eatery is the whole roasted pigeon. At £16, “it arrives on a fiery heap of roasted carrots, and spiced red peppers cooked down until they have collapsed into a gloriously happy, flame-coloured mess.” Other equally hearty, praiseworthy dishes include the whole kipper and mash, crispy pig cheek salad and steamed ginger pudding.

Jerk ox heart
image credit: EartH Kitchen

The Bonnie Badger, East Lothian EH31 2AB

“Despite there being a distinct lack of wheel-reinvention, almost everything is as good as it can possibly be,” writes Marina O’Loughlin of Tom Kitchin’s new pub with rooms. Ham, egg and chips consists of slow-cooked ham hock wrapped in a “sticky-sweet glazed crépinette,” accompanied by scrambled egg, chips and pineapple salsa. The house burger is made from Highland wagyu, while the steak pie is “a celebration of pastry and slow-cooked beef, a marrow-bone oozing its contents over the crust.”

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