Monday, 25 July 2016

From Turkey Twizzlers to Chicken Nuggets

Turkey Twizzlers are fondly remembered by a generation who have never forgiven Jamie Oliver for getting them banned in schools. That was a decade ago and Oliver's contempt for frozen processed meat products has now been softened by his one true love: money.

As the founder of a self-styled “food revolution”, Jamie Oliver has made a career of encouraging families to cook “fresh, real food”.

But now the celebrity chef faces the prospect of losing his reputation as a champion of healthy home-cooking, after signing a multi-million pound deal for frozen, ready-meals with one of the world’s biggest chicken producers.

Oliver is to put his name to a range of pre-prepared poultry products made by Sadia, a division of the Brazilian food giant BRF Brazil.

Sadia make delicious products such Kid's Club Chicken Nuggets which are very much aimed at children...

Nothing wrong with that, of course, unless you happen to be a mockney mouth-breathing self-publicist who spent years getting this stuff out of school canteens, in which case you could look like a greedy hypocrite.

While Oliver said the deal, worth £11.5 million, gave him an opportunity to make “lasting change on a large scale” in the country, critics suggested he was betraying his principles.

Elisabetta Recine, coordinator of the Observatory of Food Security and Nutrition Policies and a professor at the School of Nutrition at the University of Brasília, said the chef’s decision to work with Sadia was “regrettable”.

“He’s a public figure who has built his image on local produce, home-cooking and fresh food,” she said.

“Sadia is a chain linked to intensive production. He has betrayed the narrative that he has built. “Jamie Oliver won’t make Sadia better but Sadia will make Jamie Oliver worse.”

I'm not sure he could get any worse, but at least a few people are starting to him as he is.

PS. Oliver's big thing these days is the mad war on sugar. Sugar is such a basic part of the diet that no chef could take part in this crusade without being a hypocrite. For the record, his recipe for pork belly and watermelon salad in yesterday's Sunday Times has more sugar in it than a can of Dr Pepper. If the Sunday Times used the labelling system that Oliver has demanded for fizzy drinks, it would show seven teaspoons.

Friday, 22 July 2016

The study that isn't

Hop over to Spectator Health to see what I have to say about this bullshit (above).

Also, I've written about poverty and inequality under the Cameron/Clegg government at the IEA blog.

Aseem Malhotra's fitness video

Consistent with my predictions about his career trajectory, purveyor of low quality nutritional advice, Aseem Malhotra, has made a diet video.

It's yours to own for just $19.99. That's about $19.98 more than I am prepared to pay but there is a trailer to watch for free in which Malhotra writes down ingredients in a Mediterranean restaurant and calls it the Mediterranean diet. He also takes part in some amusing physical activities.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Vitamin D tablets for all

After years of being told to avoid sunlight and red meat, we are now being told to take pills to prevent a disease that can be avoided by getting some sun and eating red meat.

Everyone should consider taking vitamin D supplements in autumn and winter, public health advice in England and Wales says.

This is to avoid rickets, a disease that was pretty much wiped out by good nutrition in post-war Britain but which has recently made a comeback. Five years ago, a doctor in sunny Southampton commented on the rise in new cases...

At Southampton General Hospital, we have recently uncovered evidence to suggest a resurgence of vitamin D deficiency amongst children.

Our study has shown that this is not confined to the lower classes or ethnic minorities, with those from the leafy suburbs and coastal towns just as likely to be affected.

... Parents need to be aware that always covering up in the sun and not allowing their children to get a moderate amount of sunshine can lead to problems too.

Rickets remains rare, however, and is largely confined to children who are kept out of the sun or who have fad diets. People who cover themselves up for religious reasons or because they have obsessively protective parents can be at risk, but given the very small number of people who have a vitamin D deficiency, you would think that targeting at-risk groups with advice to get in the sun and eat some eggs, fish and beef would be the way forward. Those people who are not prepared to make these lifestyle changes - vegans, burqa-wearing women etc. - could be advised to take vitamin D pills.

But this is the world of 'public health' where the whole population has to be alarmed and medicated in equal measure. You can't be too careful, can you?

Well, yes you can. Vitamin D pills cost money, and encouraging 65 million people to take one every day for at least six months of the year is a gigantic waste of it.     

Monday, 18 July 2016

Greenpeace and the bus of truth

From the BBC...

Vote Leave's EU referendum bus has been hired by Greenpeace, which plans to rebrand it a "vehicle for truth".

The environmental group has parked the double-decker at Westminster.

It will cover the bus, which featured the controversial claim leaving the EU could boost the NHS by £350m a week, with questions for the government.

This bus has taken on a mythical status amongst the sore losers of the Remain campaign. Undoubtedly the £350 million a week figure was extremely misleading and should never have been used, but it is extremely doubtful whether using the correct figure (of £250 million or £188 million, depending on how you look at it) would have made any Leave voters switch to Remain. Indeed, one of the problems Remain voters had when debunking the £350 million figure was that voters tended to think that whatever the real figure was, it was a hell of a lot of money.

But that's not why I'm writing this post. I mention this story only to point out the flagrant hypocrisy of Greenpeace, of all groups, claiming to be on the side of truth. It has only been a few weeks since 110 Nobel prize winners signed a letter condemning Greenpeace's persistent and blatant misrepresentation of scientific data in their crusade against GM food...

The United Nations Food & Agriculture Program has noted that global production of food, feed and fiber will need approximately to double by 2050 to meet the demands of a growing global population. Organizations opposed to modern plant breeding, with Greenpeace at their lead, have repeatedly denied these facts and opposed biotechnological innovations in agriculture. They have misrepresented their risks, benefits, and impacts, and supported the criminal destruction of approved field trials and research projects.

As the scientists pointed out, Greenpeace's campaign of lies has led to death and disease in developing countries and will continue to do so for as long as governments take them seriously.

WE CALL UPON GREENPEACE to cease and desist in its campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general;

WE CALL UPON GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD to reject Greenpeace's campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general; and to do everything in their power to oppose Greenpeace's actions and accelerate the access of farmers to all the tools of modern biology, especially seeds improved through biotechnology. Opposition based on emotion and dogma contradicted by data must be stopped.

How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a "crime against humanity"?

The EU has been particularly craven in capitulating to these fanatics, so it is little wonder Greenpeace are such fans of it. 'Vehicle of truth'? Don't make me laugh.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Theresa May and the nanny state

The Morning Advertiser asked me to write a comment piece about Theresa May's attitude to pubs. You can read it here.

The headline is...

"On nanny state issues, she is surprisingly sound" - IEA's Snowdon on Theresa May

This will probably come back to haunt me, so let me get my excuses in early.

Given Theresa May's woeful record on civil liberties I would have expected her to support every nanny state policy in the book. The fact that she was opposed to minimum pricing and voted against banning smoking in cars is therefore surprising.

I am not predicting a golden age of lifestyle freedom ahead. On the contrary, I expect the downward spiral to continue. It is just a question of how steeply and how fast.

Having said that, The Times reported today that the 'childhood' obesity strategy won't contain the worst anti-market policies beloved of the public health racket, so perhaps we can cling to some hope.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Public Health England and vaping bans

The UK government may have a relatively enlightened view of e-cigarettes, but many businesses have banned vaping of their own accord. You would think that pubs had suffered enough from the smoking ban to not want to voluntarily alienate another group of customers and yet some of the PubCos have opted for a vaping ban all the same (although staff often turn a blind eye).

It has to be said that a handful of vapers ruin it for everyone by cloud chasing with high powered devices in confined spaces. It would be a shame if indoor vaping bans become the norm thanks to a few idiots making a nuisance of themselves, but most of the time vaping annoys no one because it is barely noticeable, and it is ridiculous that outdoor sporting venues such as the Oval and Silverstone have banned e-cigarette use.

Public Health England has produced a little publication that could come in handy if your employer is considering a vaping policy. It is filled with the usual unpleasant anti-smoker rhetoric, but it could serve a purpose for vapers. Any port in a storm.

The key passages are this...

E-cigarette use is not covered by smokefree legislation and should not routinely be included in the requirements of an organisation’s smokefree policy

And this...

E-cigarettes are used almost exclusively by smokers and ex-smokers and are now the most popular stop smoking aid in England. To support smokers to stop smoking and stay smokefree, a more enabling approach may be appropriate in relation to vaping to make it an easier choice than smoking. In particular, vapers should not be required to use the same space as smokers, as this could undermine their ability to quit smoking and stay smokefree, particularly among those most heavily addicted.

You can download it here.