Tesco stores recall burgers amid horse meat findings

Tesco stores in Britain and Ireland have pulled its brand of burgers from the shelves after authorities discovered they contained roughly 30 percent horse meat.

The Irish food safety watchdog has discovered traces of pig and horse DNA in burger products sold in some of Ireland's leading supermarkets, The Bigstory reports.

According to Ireland's agriculture minister, Simon Coveney, a meat processor in County Monaghna is responsible, allowing an imported additive used to make the burgers to be packed with horse meat.

The additive, he said, was "either falsely labelled, or somebody made a mistake, or somebody was behaving recklessly. That allowed some horsemeat product to come into the system that shouldn't have been here."

Tesco has subsequently apologised and pulled its Tesco-branded burgers from shelves in Britain and Ireland as a precaution.

Alan Reilly, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland's chief executive, said "In Ireland, it is not in our culture to eat horse meat and therefore, we do not expect to find it in a burger.

"Likewise, for some religious groups or people who abstain from eating pig meat, the presence of traces of pig DNA is unacceptable."


US food safety shake-up; Colombia’s coffee woes: Global News Bites

Global News Bites keeps you up-to-date on what's happening around the world in food and beverage manufacturing.

FDA proposes new food safety standards
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed two new food safety rules that will help prevent foodborne illness. The proposed rules implement the landmark, bipartisan FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) … The proposed rules build on significant strides made during the Obama Administration, including the first egg safety rule protecting consumers from Salmonella and stepped up testing for E. coli in beef as well as existing voluntary industry guidelines for food safety, which many producers, growers and others currently follow … The first rule proposed would require makers of food to be sold in the United States, whether produced at a foreign- or domestic-based facility, to develop a formal plan for preventing their food products from causing foodborne illness. The rule would also require them to have plans for correcting any problems that arise. The FDA seeks public comment on this proposal. The FDA is proposing that many food manufacturers be in compliance with the new preventive controls rules one year after the final rules are published in the Federal Register but small and very small businesses would be given additional time. The FDA also seeks public comment on the second proposed rule released today, which proposes enforceable safety standards for the production and harvesting of produce on farms. This rule proposes science- and risk-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables.

Improvement in Colombia coffee production 'urgently required': Agriculture Minister
Colombia's Minister of Agriculture on Sunday said that the government is dedicated and has proven its dedication to aiding the country's sluggish coffee industry. In a press release from the Ministry of Agriculture, Juan Camilo Restrepo called the decline in Colombia coffee production in 2012 "troubling and disappointing" and that improvement in 2013 is "urgently required." Restrepo said that the administration remains determined to assisting Colombian farmers through this troubling period. The Minister of Agriculture noted that 75% of funds invested into the coffee industry come directly from the national government. Restrepo also mentioned the $33 per load subsidy farmers are currently getting to help offset the declining international price of coffee, which fell 26% in 2012. A calamitous 2012 production season caused the national government to directly subsidize farmers whose production numbers represented a 33-year low. The dramatic decline, according to the Communications Director for Colombia's National Federation of Coffee Growers [FNC], was due to a myriad of factors including global market fluctuation, torrential rains and a rising peso. Besides a shifting global market, a heavy rainy season "prevented flowering and sparked an increase in coffee tree diseases" which dramatically affected production goals. Despite the disappointing 2012 season, the Minister of Agriculture said he remained hopeful that the industry would rebound in 2013.

UK 'mega deals' at three-year high
The number of big deals increased from 24 to 39, helped by the £5bn acquisition of NDS by US software company Cisco and by the £4.6bn partial acquisition of Alliance Boots by US rival Walgreens. In total, such deals accounted for £128bn in 2012 and helped boost the overall value of deals by 4.8pc, from £231bn in 2011 to £242bn in 2012. The most active sector for large deals was food and drink manufacturing, followed by chemical manufacturing, and professional and business services. Deals included Diageo’s £1.3bn acquisition of Vijay Mallya’s stake in Indian drinks company United Spirits, as well as the £1.2bn sale of Weetabix to Chinese conglomerate Bright Food.

Udyami meet: Food processing industry in state under focus
The food processing industry in Bihar came under focus at the Udyami panchayat here on Monday, at which the entrepreneurs aired their problems and chief minister Nitish Kumar, who headed a team of ministers and top officials, promised to address them. Promoters and representatives of rice and wheat flour mills, rural agri business centres, processing units of maize, fruits and vegetables, biscuit manufacturing and edible oil processing units attended the meeting. The State Industrial Promotion Board (SIPB) has approved altogether 533 projects under food processing sector with the total projected cost of Rs 5942.74 crore. Of this, over Rs 762 crore has already been invested, said industry minister Renu Kumari Kushwaha after the meeting … The SIPB has also approved proposals for 28 new sugar mills at a projected cost of Rs 6507.86 crore, extension of 10 existing sugar mills for Rs 956.64 crore, establishment of ethanol plants at three existing sugar mills at an outlay of Rs 151 crore, said principal secretary, industry, Navin Verma.

Canadian Health Officials 15 E. coli Illnesses in Eastern Provinces
Canada’s eastern and adjoining provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are reporting 15 confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7. None of the illnesses have yet been traced to a source. Ten of the E. coli illnesses are located in central Nova Scotia, with five reported by the Capital District Health, two by the Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority, and one each by the Pictou, Cumberland, and Colcherster East Hants health authorities. On the other side of the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, heath officials reported two cases were reported in the St. John region and three in the Fredericton region. Dr. Eilish Cleary, chief medical officer for New Brunswick, said it is not known if there is a common source for the cases. A number of possible sources are being investigated. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer for Nova Scotia, said that it would not be uncommon for there to be additional cases as it may take as long as ten days for some people to begin to experience symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 and get tested. One of the Nova Scotia patients experienced kidney failure, but along with the others is said to be recovering. In New Brunswick, four illnesses were treated by emergency room visits, and one victim was hospitalized.

Federal agriculture minister announces Canada-wide information hubs
Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says the government will phase in 16 information hubs for farmers, fishers and foresters needing advice on growing and selling their products. Ritz made the announcement at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency laboratories in Saskatoon. He said the centres will have expertise on newly developed crop strains, strategies to increase yields and best practices related to food safety. For example, a canola company needing information on export regulations on food-grade canola will have one-stop access to the rules through a centre. The hubs are to be spread across Canada and are to specialize in an activity concentrated in a given region such as shellfishing in Moncton, N.B., and forestry in Burnaby, B.C. Ritz says producers located far from any centre will be able to get advice through a toll-free number or digital means.

Change4Life advertising campaign highlights sugar and fat in food
A graphic government television campaign highlighting the levels of sugar, fat and salt in everyday foods, including a cola bottle holding 17 cubes of sugar, and a wine glass full of fat from a large pizza, will be launched on Monday during an episode of Coronation Street. The adverts will bookend commercial food adverts, including from Asda, the Co-Op and Quorn, featuring their healthier ranges. The campaign is part of the Change4Life scheme. The public health minister, Anna Soubry, said: "We want to make it easy for everyone to keep track of what they eat and make healthier choices. That is why we are also developing a simple and clear system for front of pack labelling that everyone can use." The government has been criticised in the past by many in the health sector for not introducing a mandatory simple uniform labelling system, but has finally won agreement from major supermarkets to introduce a traffic light system of labelling on a voluntary basis this year. Soubry said with England having one of the highest rates of obesity in Europe, there was more to do. "Making healthier, balanced meals on a budget can be a challenge for families. This new Change4Life campaign offers families free healthy recipes and money off those much needed cupboard essentials to encourage everyone to try healthy alternatives.

US Demand for Plastic Film to Grow 1.9% Annually to 16 Billion Pounds in 2016
US demand for plastic film is expected to grow 1.9 percent annually to 16 billion pounds in 2016, with a market value of $19 billion. Expansion of the market will be fostered by an acceleration in economic growth and an increase in consumer spending, which will drive demand for film used in diverse applications such as retail sales, manufacturing, and construction. Advances will also be helped by an increase in the use of film in packaging, where it offers advantages in cost, performance, and source reduction over other packaging materials. The versatility of plastic film increasingly allows for the downgauging of packaging, reducing the amount of material needed and lowering production and shipping costs, while maintaining desired characteristics.


UK govt launches traffic light labelling

The UK government has officially introduced the controversial traffic light labelling system on packaged foods.

Last year there was much debate within the Australian food and packaging industry over the design and layout of a mandatory front-of-pack nutritional labelling scheme.

The government pledged almost exactly a year ago that it would have a design ready in one year’s time, but currently there is no sign of such a scheme.

It did say at the time that it would not be the traffic light system, which the Australian Food and Grocery Council deemed “too simplistic to work.”

But the UK government obviously has a different view, with the Public Health Minister, Anna Soubry, unveiling the scheme with the promise that shoppers will be able to make “healthier choices” about the food they buy.

The labels, which are intended to be in use by the next UK summer, will combine the traffic light colour-coding along with other information.

The new labels will also show how much fat, saturated fat, salt, sugar and calories are in each product.

Currently the system is voluntary for UK but the local Department of Health (DH) has carried out a three-month consultation with retailers, manufacturers and “other interested parties” on what the consistent, clear front of pack label should look like, according to The Telegraph.

Up until now in the UK, where private label saturation is even higher than in Australiam supermarkets have used their own systems, to display the information. 

The DH believes this system is confusing for consumers and that the new labelling scheme will harmonise the industry. 

“The UK already has the largest number of products with front of pack labels in Europe but research has shown that consumers get confused by the wide variety of labels used,” Soubry told The Telegraph.

“By having a consistent system we will all be able to see at a glance what is in our food. This will help us all choose healthier options and control our calorie intake.”

The UK has a very similar problem with obesity as Australia and Soubry said the current cost to the public medical organisation the National Health Service (NHS) is costing one billion pounds each year.

“Making small changes to our diet can have a big impact on our health and could stop us getting serious illnesses – such as heart disease – later in life,” she said.

Nestlé loses appeal against Cadbury’s purple

Food giant Nestlé has lost its court battle with Cadbury over the colour purple.

The UK High Court did not uphold Nestle’s appeal that has gone on for four years.

In 2008, Cadbury, which is now owned by Kraft Foods, won the right to exclusively use the particular purple colour Pantone 2685C, the colour used Dairy Milk packaging.

Nestlé challengeed a ruling from December 2011 that covered chocolate bars and drinks., arguing that colours could not be protected as a trademark.

Judge Colin Birss did not agree, ruling yesterday that colours are "capable of being signs."

He determined that the "Cadbury purple" had become synonymous with the company's chocolate for more than 90 years.

"The evidence clearly supports a finding that purple is distinctive of Cadbury for milk chocolate,” he said.

The original ruling from the Intellectual Property Office found sufficient evidence Cadbury had used the colour since first making Dairy Milk in 1914.

But since the trademark did not cover chocolate cakes or assortments, Nestlé's boxes of Quality Street contain the brazil nut chocolate wrapped in the purple colour, which has been a bone of contention between the two confectionary makers.

What do you think of the ruling? Do you agree that colours should be trademarked?

UK supermarket giant increases price paid to dairy farmers

Following extensive industrial action, UK supermarket giant Tesco has increased the price it pays farmers for milk, albeit only slightly.

Dairy farmers in the UK have embarked on strikes and blockades this year, as they call for the major supermarkets to pay a fairer price for their product.

From 1 October, the 700 dairy farmers who supply Tesco’s private label non-organic milk will be paid an extra 2 pence per litre.

Despite the miniscule increase, the price rise, which brings the possible earnings up to 31.58 pence per litre for farmers, will make Tesco one of the highest payers of the biggest five supermarkets.

Tesco’s rivals Morrisons and the Co-Operative Group have also increased the price they pay for milk to remain competitive.

While Tesco says the price increase was due to bi-annual review, and not a reaction to the protests, the fact that other supermarkets are raising prices is good news for farmers.

The problems in the UK dairy market mirror those being ensured by Australian farmers, but as Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) director, Terry Toohey, told the Food Magazine Industry Leaders Summit earlier this year, it is not a coincidence.

“Given the sheer size of the supermarket duopoly, over 75 per cent of the market is between the two powers, and they are wielding that Australian marketplace and the majority of Australian suppliers, particularly to the fresh food industry,” he said.

“In the United Kingdom, they have already experience this [impact of pricing on dairy industry].

“This is a Tesco model, the people that have been brought in by Coles have come from Tesco.

“I had to go over there to do a study 4 years ago, and I came back with an alarm bell saying, ‘it’s not what’s going to happen in Australia, it’s when it’s going to happen in Australia.’

“We believe from the grocery supply code of practice, the grocery code could provide a good starting point on the basis of Australia legislation, establish a mandatory code of practice and an ombudsman with the ability to levy financial penalties,” Toohey said.

“We are sure that Coles’ actions impact on the visibility of the brand of dairy products and would lead to less variety of dairy products on supermarkets shelves as has happened in the United Kingdom.

“It’s our organisation’s view that Coles’ actions will ultimately less competitions consumers, decrease product choice as the experience of the UK has shown.”

Toohey told the Leaders Summit that the current supermarket environment is driving farmers out of the business, as they struggle to make ends meet.

“In NSW, my state, I see farmers being asked to sign contracts for 3 cents a litre than their previous contracts," he said.

“This will have astronomical effects on fund and profit margins.”

“In my case I’ll have 40 per cent of my tier 2 of milk [purchased] at 18 cents [per litre].

“The cost of products is 40 cents [per litre].

“So, you start to look and say, I’m only one person, there are 800 dairy farmers in NSW alone.”

Do you think Aussie dairy farmers should embark on industrial action to improve the price they get for their milk?

GPS trackers in chocolate wrappers: clever or creepy?

In an unprecedented and revolutionary marketing move, Nestle has embedded GPS trackers into chocolate bar wrappers so that it can find and surprise competition winners.

The somewhat creepy advertising campaign “we will find you,” shows military-like operations which deploy the bearers of good news to the unsuspecting winners.

The promotion, which is currently only being run in the UK, is an example of the new ways companies are embracing technology to create marketing campaigns that stand out.

When a customer opens a winning wrapper, the GPS navigator inside notifies the prize team, who then track the person down within 24 hours to deliver a cheque for £10 000.

"Inside six lucky packs, there will be a GPS enabled bar which, when the winner pulls the tab, notifies the prize team who will leap into action locating the winner within 24 hours,” Nestle explained.

A Nestle spokesman added that "inside their wrappers, the GPS-enabled bars looked just like normal chocolate bars."

And the global food giant isn’t stopping there with its UK promotion, also using the QR Code craze to encourage consumers to engage with the brand.

About 3000 posters feature a QR code, which when scanned with a smartphone, directs the person to a competition on the company’s website, whereby they can win £10 instantly.

The website will also tell consumers how many of the six £10 000 chocolate bars are still available.

Graham Walker, Nestlé UK's trade communications manager said the company is looking to tap into a new market, using unexpected measures.

"We believe this promotion will particularly appeal to men, attracting them to the chocolate singles category and thus driving incremental sales,” he said.

"Nestlé Confectionery is delighted to be first to market with this highly innovative GPS based promotion."

Check out the video below, and tell us…do you think this is entirely creepy and stalker-like, or is this marketing genius?


Tastiness All in the Eye of the Biscuit-Holder

A new study from the UK has found that biscuits seem tastier when they come in fancy packaging.

UK consumer group Which? asked two groups of tasters to sample and rate chocolate-chip biscuits from the premium, standard and budget range at supermarket chains Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. 

Researchers gave one group cookies in their original packaging while the other group tasted the biscuits blind before being asked to rate the taste and quality of each kind of cookie.

The biscuits that were given with their packaging scored significantly higher overall, and were perceived to taste better than their wrapper-less counterparts.

Eating with our eyes

The experiment clearly showed that our perception of how food should taste is influenced by the way food is packed and the glossy, flawless images adoring wrappers.

According to a panel of experts who were asked to analyse the design of some popular UK supermarket brand ranges, it’s all part of a carefully considered strategy.

The packaging design of some budget ranges seemed like they were designed to put customers off looking obviously ‘cheap’, which could tempt consumers into upgrading to a more premium –and pricier – alternative.

However, with many household budgets stretched thin, supermarkets are putting more effort into making their home brand lines look more alluring.

Here in Australia we’ve seen this happen with the design of many supermarket lines sharing an eerie similarity to their name-brand counterparts.

Unsurprisingly, this has only served to further anger manufacturers who already feel that they are being squeezed out of premium shelf space as supermarkets aggressively promote their own lines as a comparable, yet more economical, alternative.

UK dairy farmers continue blockades to overturn price cuts

Despite three milk processors ending plans to cut the farm-gate price for milk, farmers in the UK have pledged to continue blockades of processing depots until all price cuts are rescinded.

“We will continue the protests at depots until everyone has rescinded the price cuts,” David Handley, chairman of Farmers For Actions (FFA) said.

“We also want to track the money that was taken from us in May/June.

“We have given them four weeks to show us their accounts so we can see where the money went and we want some of it back.”

Protesters wave goodbye to a milk tanker which is forced to turn around and leave the Dairy Crest milk processing at Foston, Derbyshire after farmers blocked entrances with their tractors.


The UK dairy farmers are suffering similarly to their Australian counterparts, and have been calling for the price cuts to be abandoned, as they are left unable to break even on their operations due to the low farm-gate prices.  

Farmers and the FFA have been blockading plants since last week, over what they say are unnecessary cuts.

“The decision too reverse the price cuts totally vindicates our action and shows there was no need for what they did,” Handley said.

Do Aussie farmers need to embark on similar action to get a response from our major supermarkets? As we reported earlier today, Coles has failed to respond to more than 73 000 consumers who are concerned about the impact of the milk price wars.

UK dairy farmers protest price cuts

Dairy farmers in the UK who are facing similar price cut impacts as Australian farmers have vowed to continue protesting about the returns they receive.

UK dairy manufacturers and farming groups, including the National Farmers Union, signed a draft deal yesterday to adopt a voluntary code of practise to oversee relationships in the dairy industry.

The agreement comes after talks organised by the UK government as well as protests and blockades from farmers at retail and processor sites.

Farmers have taken aim at processors including Asda, Morrisons and Robert Wiseman Dairies after they announced plans to cut prices on 1 August.

Farmers for Action chairman David Handley said the organisation will be "relentless" in its pressure to reverse the planned cuts and to push retailers to pay more for their milk.

Government involvement

Earlier this month UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the government will spend £5 million (AU$7.6 million) on a program to improve competitiveness for dairy farmers.

The NFU and dairy industry body Dairy UK agreed to "heads of terms" for a code of practice yesterday, which includes initial agreements to set minimum requirements for contracts between farmers and processors.

Handley is doubtful the code of practice will work and said the Government should consider legislating to ensure fair prices and treatment of farmrs if the code fails.

"We've got to start somewhere [but] I personally have my doubts of whether the voluntary code will work," he said.

"We've got to do is convince the minister that we are prepared to give it a try on the understanding that, if after between three and six months, it has clearly been shown not to work, they have to go for legislation.

There is no way that this industry can be allowed to get back to this situation ever again.

“Every 18 months to two years, somebody is trying to cut the milk price.

“We've got to start somewhere but I have grave reservations, knowing the people that are in this industry that are in the supply chain of dairy."

Aussie farmers suffeing same issues

The problems being faced by dairy farmers in the UK are all too familiar for Australia’s own dairy farmers.

After Coles cut its retail milk price to $1 a litre in January 2010, the flow-on effects of the decision have continued to damage the sector.

“In NSW, my state, I see farmers being asked to sign contracts for three cents a litre than their previous contracts,” Terry Toohey, Australian Dairy Farmers Director said at the Food Magazine Leaders Summit.

“This will have astronomical effects on fund and profit margins.”

"In my case I'll have 40 per cent of my tier 2 of milk [purchased] at 18 cents [per litre]. 

"The cost of producing it is 40 cents [per litre]. 

"So, you start to look and say, I'm only one person, there are 800 dairy farmers in NSW alone."

The current practice is for milk companies to announce what is known as an Anticipated Full Demand (AFD) to Dairy Farmers Milk Cooperative (DFMC), which is bought at a somewhat reasonable price and referred to as Tier 1 milk.

Any milk deemed ‘surplus’ is then paid at a much lower price and referred to as Tier 2 milk.

However, the buyers of the milk produced on Australian farms are deliberately underestimating the amount of milk that each can deliver, meaning they are not obligated to buy a considerable portion of the milk they know a farm will produce at the reasonable price.

There is no transparency at farmer level as to what Tier 2 milk is being sold to other processors for.

Supermarkets have too much power

"The retail actions are certainly impacting the dairy farmers in a negative way, this combined with the uncertainties and other factors [impacting] dairy or other farming, it's making it unattractive for the next generation, because it's not profitable for my children,” Toohey said.

"If I was old and had children ready to take over the farm, I will tell them blue in the face not to come into agriculture. 

“And that's pretty sad after 107 years on the one farm."

Toohey said the current practise on Australian soil were based on the Tesco model in the UK, which has caused indescribable pressure on the industry over there and is having the same impact here.

“Given the sheer size of the supermarket duopoly, over 75% of the market is between the two powers and they are wielding that power over the Australian marketplace, and the majority of Australian suppliers, particularly to the fresh food industry.

“In the United Kingdom, they have already experience this and I say you’ve all read that this is a Tesco model – the people that have been brought in by Coles have come from Tesco.

“I was over there, I had to go over there to do a study 4 years ago, and I came back with an alarm bell saying, ‘it’s not what’s going to happen in Australia, it’s when it’s going to happen in Australia.’

“But what has happened over there [has] been going on for 12 years and the government has stepped in, and we’ve seen a turnaround.

“But it’s plugging a hole in a boat, but the hole is that big, and it’s nearly too hard to plug.

“And I believe that’s where we’re going at the moment.

“At least the Titanic was going forward but it sunk, I don’t know about the dairy industry.”

An investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) cleared Colesof any wrongdoing in the case, and a Senate enquiry also found the supermarket was not putting dairy farmers at direct disadvantage with the pricing, but Australian Dairy Farmers Association president Chris Griffin told Food Magazine after the report was released that the Senate failed to address the real issues when it produced its findings, and farmers have continued to leave the industry in droves.

Another Senate Inquiry into the power of the major supermarkets struggled to convince people to speak out about the behaviours of the major supermarkets, too afraid to speak up for fear of the consequences.

Do you think we need more government involvement to help our struggling dairy industry?

Here at Food Magazine, we think there needs to be a Royal Commission into the supermarkets’ actions. What are your thoughts?


“Dictatorchip” over: Olympic committee overturns ban on non-Maccas chips

The Olympic Committee has overturned a ban on outlets at the games serving chips, which was deemed to be a breach of the sponsorship deal with McDonald’s.

The fast food chain, and its famous fries, won a fight last week to ban all other chips being served on their own.

McDonald’s demanded that they could be the only ones to serve chips at any Olympic venue and that the other 800 Olympic eateries could sell chips only when served with fish.

The other outlets were immediately up in arms over the decision, and a sign in a catering area in the Olympic Park made their displeasure obvious.

 "Please understand this is not the decision of the staff who are serving up your meals who, given the choice, would gladly give it to you, however they are not allowed to,” the sign read.

“Please do not give the staff grief, this will only lead to us removing fish and chips completely."

Now the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has announced that it has overturned the decision, with a spokesman confirming the "dictatorchip" has been brought to an end and chips can now be served alongside chicken, pies and on their own.

"It's sorted," he said.

"We have spoken to McDonald's about it."

UK govt spending £5 million on improving dairy industry

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that the government will spend £5 million (AU$7.6 million) on a program to improve competitiveness for dairy farmers.

The funding is part of the UK Government’s Rural Economy Scheme, and the announcement came on the same day as dairy farmers across the UK gathered at a summit in London, calling on  processors to reverse a reduction in farmgate milk prices.

The Department for Environment & Rural Affairs (Defra) will hear bids for funding in the coming months, but have not revealed exactly what they will be looking for.

"We are looking for high-quality bids from the dairy industry to help unlock growth through game-changing investments," a Defra statement said.

"The dairy grant funding is to help producers to increase their competitiveness and added value.

“The details regarding what it is available for support, intervention rates etc are not yet available, but will need to meet current RDPE (Rural Development Programme for England) funding requirements.

The dairy farming industry has suffered similar problems as their Australian counterparts, as cuts to base prices impact farmers’ incomes and businesses.

Coles’ decision to slash milk prices to $1 per litre last year had huge flow-on effects for the industry, and farmers left the industry in droves.

Last month, the dairy industry announced that name-brand milk, which is slightly more expensive than the private label offerings, will now be permeate free.

The additive, which is much cheaper than whole milk, dilutes the milk and allows it to be sold cheaper, but as consumers become aware of the presence of permeate, they are looking for products without it.

The move by the dairy industry provides an obvious point-of-difference for consumers, which it hopes will result in more sales of the additive-free milk.

In May Dairy Australia received $1 million from the Federal Government to conduct research to assess energy efficiency on dairy farms nation-wide, but do you think the Australian dairy industry needs a similar scheme to the UK?

Image: The Guardian

Heir to TetraPak business arrested over wife’s death

The heir to the multibillion-dollar TetraPak packaging business has been arrested after his wife was found dead in their luxury London home.

Eva Rausing, 48, was found dead in the west London home she shared with her husband yesterday.

Hours earlier, 49-year-old father-of-four Hans Kristian Rausing, was arrested after he was found driving erratically in South London and found to be carrying Class A drugs.

Police then searched his home and found more illicit substances, as well as his wife’s body.

Scotland Yard has confirmed he is being questioned over the ‘unexplained death’ and that the body found was Eva Rausing's.

Further tests are being conducted after an autopsy failed to establish a formal cause of death.

Police confirmed to British media that Hans Rausing was receiving medical attention, but would not confirm whether he remained under police guard.

It’s not the first time the couple’s drug problems have reached the media, with Eva Rausing arrested outside the U.S. Embassy in London in 2008 for allegedly trying to bring crack cocaine and heroin into building in her handbag, leading to a police search of their $10 million London town house, which uncovered small amounts of cocaine, crack and heroin.

They were charged with drug possession but the charges were later dropped.

The Rausing family issued a statement at the time, saying relatives were "deeply saddened" by the couple's drug problems and they hoped they could overcome their addictions.

Hans Rausing's Swedish father helped transform the TetraPak business into the successful manufacturer of laminated cardboard drink containers it is today.

Image: The Daily Mail

Pizzas not selling, we’ll make potatoes instead: McCain UK factory to slash 40 jobs

McCain Foods will stop producing frozen pizzas in the UK, amid disappointing sales.

About 40 jobs are under threat at the Scarborough factory, which will move away from baking and topping pizzas in favour of producing backed potatoes.

The statement released by the company confirmed that declining pizza sales are the reason behind the move, and that the surge in demand for its Ready Baked jacket potatoes, which are sold frozen in boxes of four, would offer a better return.

While the cost of converting the prepared food facility currently used to produce the pizzas will be significant, the company believes it will be money well spent, as sales are expected to continue increasing.

“The scale of the work required means decommissioning the current unit and extensive installation of new equipment,” McCain managing director Alan Bridges said.

“As a result, we have met employers and made preparations for a period of consultation because, regrettably, up to 40 jobs may be at risk of redundancy.

“The exact number will become clearer once the consultation takes place and all options for sustainable alternative employment have been fully explored.”

Image: The Scarborough News

Marmite gets corgis on board to launch “Ma’amite’ to celebrate Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

To celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, Marmite has released a limited edition version called Ma’amite, and even gotten her majesty’s famous corgi’s in on the advertising.

Marmite, similar to Vegemite, advertises its product with the tagline “you either love it or you hate it,” which has been changed slightly to "Ma'amite, one either loves it or one hates it," with one corgi seemingly in support of the acquired taste and one not so much in the print advertisement.

In the television ad, things get a bit more obvious, as a corgi sniffs the breakfast waiting at the bedroom door in a palace, and then makes its feelings known with a lift of its leg.

The Ma’amite, named after the Queen, often referred to as “Ma’am,” is just one of the countless ways British companies and stores are celebrating the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

Check out the video below. 


Smart label remembers the use-by date you forget

A revolutionary “smart food label” developed by European scientists, which would take the guess work out of use-by labels, could be mass produced by the end of this year, if it gets enough support.

The UWI Label, which can be used on a range of foods, contains a chemical-based indicator strip that tells you exactly how long that product has been opened.

Developed by Pete Higgins, in conjunction with scientists from Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh, Scotland, the inventors say the system could save countless food poisoning cases and significantly eliminate food wastage.

“The label on the back might have small print that says something like “once opened, use within 4 weeks” (or whatever the period might be) but, how do you remember when you first opened the jar?” the creators ask.

You don’t, that say, you forget and you then either take a risk or throw it away. Sound familiar?

“The label reacts as a soon as a food jar or packaging is opened, then gives a visual warning when the product is no longer safe to consume,” Higgins said.

The UWI Label knows when you opened the jar for the first time  shows you how long it has been opened tells you when it has reached its “use within” period and when it may no longer safe to use or consume.

Indicator panels in the label progressively turn green to show the elapsed time from the opening of a product and a red panel alerts consumers when the “use within” period has expired.

UWI Label time ranges can be set as hours, days, weeks, months up to a six month and is pre-set during manufacturing of the product.

The inventors have made it to the final of the Barclays Take One Small Step competition, which helps entrepreneurs in Great Britain to turn their ideas into reality, with £50,000 funding, exposure and support.

The public voting starts 30 May and concludes 27 June, and the inventors say they “will be working tirelessly throughout this four week period to get as many supporters as possible.”

They say while the label would be extremely beneficial for food products, it could offer significant improvements to various industries.

 “Beyond the obvious application for food production, the technology is also suitable in other sectors where products have a critical shelf life once opened – including industrial glues and sealants, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, blood transfusion services and veterinary,” Higgins said.


AFGC rejects tax on fast food outlets, study finds 20pc needed to make impact

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has rejected a proposal from a suburban Melbourne council that called for major food outlets to be taxed up to 400 per cent more on commercial rates than other businesses.

The Darebin City Council’s proposal became public this week, inspiring comment and opinion from all sides.

Some argue it would be a step in the right direction of tackling rising obesity rates in Australia and, while others, including the AFGC say it would not achieve such an objective.

A report by local councillors said the introduction of the tax on fast food outlets including McDonald’s and KFC would “curb the increase” of people developing Type 2 diabetes.

But the AFGC’s acting chief executive, Geoffrey Annison said the move is “ill-conceived, impractical and would have no impact at all on obesity levels”.

 “Proposals like Darebin Council’s are simplistic and add nothing to either the debate or the outcome. The Henry Tax review said differential taxation was a poor regulatory option for influencing food choice.

“If you were to go down that line, you would have to include a range of food outlets including supermarkets, petrol stations, bakeries, coffee shops, fish and chip outlets, and Thai, Indian and Pizza restaurants as they all sell fast ready-to-eat takeaway foods and not to do so would be inequitable.”

The suggestion of a “fat tax” began last year, when Denmark developed a model to put a tax on foods high in saturated fats.

Many believe Australia needs a similar tax, to address rising obesity rates, and raise funds to prevent and cure obesity-related diseases including Type 2 diabetes.

Australian researchers examined three options for beating obesity and discovered they could prevent about 220 000 cases of type 2 diabetes nationwide by 2025, which was released this week.


The team from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute identified a high-risk prevention strategy to begin tackling the obesity epidemic and rise in the number of type 2 diabetes.

They modelled future diabetes cases that could be averted using one of three strategies, the ‘junk food tax,’ counselling and gastric banding.

It found a nation-wide tax on unhealthy foods could lead to body mass index decreasing by around 0.5kg/m2.

A tax on high-sugar drinks has also been suggested, which a study in January found could save 26 000 US lives per year.

But new research out of the UK today has found that any tax on unhealthy foods or drinks would have to be more than 20 per cent for it to have any effect.

Researchers from the University of Oxford found that while more countries are introducing, or considering introducing taxes on unhealthy food and drinks, existing evidence suggests that taxes on a vast range of unhealthy foods would be more effective than focusing on just one.

In the UK, for example, the current “fat tax” regulations stipulate that only hot foods high in saturated fat are subject to the tax, leading to the largest baker, Gregg’s Bakery, to contest its application in court.

It says that because it does not make any effort to keep its sausage rolls warm after they are cooked, they should not be classified as ‘hot food,’ and therefore should not be taxed.

The Oxford study found that the most effective food group to be taxed would be sugary drinks.

“For example, a US study found a 35 per cent tax on sugar sweetened drinks in a canteen led to a 26 per cent decline in sales,” Oliver Mytton, leader of the study, said.

“Meanwhile, modelling studies predict a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks in the US would reduce obesity levels by 3.5 per cent, and suggest that extending VAT (at 17.5 per cent) to unhealthy foods in the UK could cut up to 2,700 heart disease deaths a year.

“Opinion polls from the US also put support for tax on sugary drinks at between 37 per cent and 72 per cent, particularly when the health benefits of the tax are emphasised.”

The researchers also found that education surrounding energy intake, exercise and nutritional content is important for policy makers to consider when implementing changes.

Rate of animals slaughtered without stunning rising faster that Muslim population in UK

An animal welfare expert in the UK has accused the local meat industry of increasing the number of animals slaughtered without stunning, claiming it is for religious purposes, when it is actually a financial decision.

Professor Bill Reilly, former chairman of the UK Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food, said the increase in the number of animals not being stunned prior to slaughter was “unacceptable.”

He is currently a consultant on veterinary public health and believes the practise of slaughtering animals without stunning should be reduced or banned entirely.

He said reports by the Farm Animal Welfare Council and EU-funded Dialrel Project, combined with publically-available footage on YouTube "clearly demonstrate the pain and distress of obviously still sentient animals after non-stun slaughter".

Legislation in the UK and EU allows the slitting of animals’ throats without stunning, in accordance with Muslim and Jewish food requirements, but the number of animals slaughtered without stunning is increasing faster than the rates of people who require animals to be killed in such a way for their religious beliefs.

The production of halal meat in particular has been growing at a rapid pace, Reilly said, and now significantly exceeds the proportion of Muslims in the UK population.

The halal share of the UK meat market increased almost 15 per cent in the last 11 years he said, while the Muslim population is estimated at 4.6 per cent.

“Why has there been this growth in demand for halal meat and the proportion that is from non-stunned animals?” Professor Reilly wrote in the Veterinary Record.

“There may be operational advantages for an abattoir if stunning is not carried out.

“Other commercial drivers include the convenience of not offering a Halal processing line."

Reilly stressed that he is not targeting the right to religious freedom, but rather attempting to ensure as many animals as possible are slaughtered in a humane way.

"The challenge to society is to enable religious slaughter without compromising animal suffering," he said.
He wants to reduce the minimum number of animals killed without pre-stunning in the UK/

But Dr Shuja Shafi, deputy general-secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, said there is a "lot of confusion" over Halal meat.

He said animals can be stunned before slaughter and still be labelled Halal.

"Over 90 per cent of Halal meat is stunned before slaughter," he said.

In October, Australian agriculture ministers failed to resolve discussions over ritual slaughters, meaning exemptions that allow some Australian abattoirs to conduct slaughter without prior stunning will continue.

There are 12 abattoirs in Australia that are exempt from the regulations that say animals for consumption must be stunned before they are slaughtered.

The exemptions are on religious or cultural grounds, but animal welfare groups want to practice stopped altogether.

The council released a statement following the meeting, saying ministers have reviewed the results of a two-year consultation process with stakeholders and have considered the science involved and the views of religious groups, but could not reach a conclusion.

Up to 250,000 animals are killed without prior stunning in Australia every year under the religious slaughter exemptions and the RSPCA has rejected claims that stunning is not allowed on religious grounds, saying stunning is accepted by the Islamic community and Jewish community and no reason existed for un-stunned slaughter to continue.

Image: The Guardian

What do you think about the slaughter of animals without prior stunning?

Salt levels in fast food varies between countries

It’s pretty common knowledge that the salt content in fast food is high, but new research shows that the exact level varied between countries, even if it’s the same chain.

Researchers compared the same food items, bought in six different countries, and found that overall the UK foods had less salt that the US and Canada, and Australia was somewhere in the middle.

They bought foods like McDonald’s nuggets, burgers and pizza from global chains to conduct their research.

In the UK, McDonald’s nuggets had 240mg, or 0.6 grams of salt per serving, compared with 1.7 grams – which equates to 600 milligrams – found in the same item sold in the US.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Heart Foundation advise the average person should limit their salt consumption to about 2000 mg, or 4 to 6 grams per day, so depending what people in the US pair their nuggets with – salty fries, for example – they could be at risk of consuming more than half their recommended daily salt intake in just one meal.

Most people in Australia today consume eight to twelve grams of salt each day, mostly from processed foods.

The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that while most Australian fast-food options are somewhere in the middle of the salty US options and less salty UK variations, we do have one burger on offer which tips the scales in all the wrong ways, according to lead author Elizabeth Dunford, a PhD student at theGeorge Institute in Sydney.

Hungry Jack’s Ultimate Double Whopper has 6.3 grams, or 6300 milligrams, of salt in each serve, almost triple the recommended daily salt intake.

Closely following that is the Burger King Angus bacon and cheese burger from Burger King in the US, which contains 5.2 grams of salt per serve.

This week a study was published which found the chances of a child being obese greatly depends on their neighbourhood, while earlier this month other researchers discovered that a “low salt” label on food will make a consumer experience a decreased level of taste, even if it is not in fact any lower in salt than other varieties.

High consumption of salt has been proven to raise blood pressure, increase the chances of diabetes and stroke, and cause weight gain.

The Heart Foundation, doctors and health organisations are constantly recommending low-salt diets to improve health and life expectancy.

"The main outcome of high salt is high blood pressure levels and that is the leading risk factor for cardio vascular disease and stroke, which is the number one cause of death in Australia," Dunford said.

Only last week there were fresh calls for a “fat tax” in Australia, following its introduction in Sweden and the UK, and Dunford believes part of the reason for the lower salt content in food bought in the UK is the awareness of fat and salt on health.

"We think the reason for [the low salt levels in the UK] is that they have a national salt reduction campaign," she said.

"In Australia we started that process with some processed foods, but we’re a little behind in other foods.

“We’re heading in the right direction."

UK bakery fighting “fat tax”

The “fat tax” imposed on foods high in saturated fat is being fought by the biggest bakery chain in Britain, who say taxing the sausage rolls and pasties it bakes in store is unfair.

Greggs bakery will take the Chancellor George Osborne’s decision to impose the Value Added Tax (VAT) on its hot products to court in the next six weeks.

The bakery chain, which has 1500 stores across the UK, has lost £30 million value in its shared after being reclassified as hot food.

Hot food is subject to the VAT, while cold food is not, and chief executive Ken McMeikan told Sky News the change is unreasonable.

“The consumer needs help in making their money go as far possible, not to see an increased tax on something they didn’t have to pay tax on previously,” he said.

Osborne released his Budget last week, which included changes to certain loopholes which allowed some foods to be exempt from the tax.

“At present soft drinks and sports drinks are charged VAT, sports nutrition drinks are not,” he said.

‘Hot takeaway food on high streets has been charged VAT for more than 20 years, but some new hot takeaway products in supermarkets are not.’

Greggs argument is that while it bakes its sausage rolls in-store, it does not make any effort to keep them warm once they’re removed, so they should not be classified as hot food.

McMeikan argues the changes were made without consultation with businesses, and he will meet with government representatives next week to discuss the issues.

‘We will be fighting this all the way,’ he said.

‘At a time when the consumer is under enormous pressure and at a torrid time for the high street, this felt like a tax measure that has been ill thought through and the timing could not be worse.’

It’s no wonder Greggs is planning to argue the tax on its ‘hot foods,’ as the company sells two million sausage rolls alone every week.

Greggs and the National Association of Master Bakers, who have collaborated to launch a legal bid against the decision, will have six weeks to take the matter to court.

When the “fat tax,” was first implemented in Denmark in October last year, Prime Minister David Cameron.announced that the UK was considering introducing a similar measure.

It has also been suggested as a possible way to improve health and nutrition in Australia, among other countries.

Some Australian doctors also want warning labels on energy drinks, while a US study found a tax on sugary drinks could save 26 000 lives per year.

UK company allows manufacturers to see potential factories in 3D

An equipment company in the UK has launched a 3D virtual reality warehouse simulator which allows food manufacturers to test warehouse options before making decisions on changes.

Briggs Equipment UK is currently offering the virtual reality experience to clients’, who experience the potential warehouse through a visor while sitting in a chair.

Users can look at warehouse designs, hourly flow rates and visual indications of bottlenecks and Briggs can then source the necessary resources to make the vision a reality.

The experience is particularly useful for companies with small warehouses, as it allows them to out the space available to the best use possible.

“For example, you can create an additional 18 per cent storage space,” Mark Murfet, VNA (Very Narrow Aisles) and warehouse project manager at Briggs said.

“We can help you store, say, 10 000 pallets using 40 oer cent less space.

The technology also allows manufacturers to foresee and reduce unnecessary costs, including purchasing too many vehicles or storage racks.