Friday, 15 February 2013

Our food safety is decided by the EU.

There was a time when we could set our own laws on food safety and have some confidence in what we were eating but sadly this has been lost and the EU now runs things for us. It relies on honesty and proper labeling of meat so is open to abuse at every stage of the process.

Richard North of eureferendum has written a good article at CITY A.M.

The article...

How EU regulation has prevented UK horse meat action.

" Friday 15th February 2013, 1:04am

RICHARD A E NORTH

DAVID Cameron’s enthusiasm for the Single Market must be taking a knock, as the horse meat scandal gallops on. It is, after all, one of the fundamental four freedoms of the Single Market – the free movement of goods – that prohibits environment secretary Owen Paterson from banning imports of suspect meat.

But the EU has exercised its influence in other ways. All matters relating to food safety are an exclusive EU “competence”. Not only does this mean that food law is written in Brussels, but UK authorities are prevented from making their own laws to fill the gaps without the permission of the European Commission.

The specific instrument that constrains our government is regulation (EC) No 178/2002. It requires “food business operators” – farms, factories and retailers – to have the “primary legal responsibility for ensuring food safety”. It warns that, if responsibility is assumed by national regulators, “disparities are liable to create barriers to trade and distort competition between food business operators in different member states”.

As Paterson has rightly said, the system is “paper-based, and too much is taken on trust”. And this lies at the heart of the problem. The EU regulations, although loved by consultants and bureaucrats, remove much of the physical checking from the system, and put in its place a complex chain of documents that must accompany every part of the production process.

Lord Haskins, former chairman of Northern Foods, has complained that “everybody fills in forms to say they are doing the right thing, but they don’t actually look at the factory to see what is happening inside”. Haskins didn’t identify the root cause, but others have been less reticent. A senior consultant in the food industry told me that the effect of the EU system is to “hammer the good guys” while the crooks find a way around it.

The trouble is that the system assumes that food producers are honest. But, as Paterson has pointed out, this scandal “is a criminal action, substituting one material for another”. The longer-term problem is that the EU system is not capable of detecting food fraud – an industry reckoned by the FBI and the World Customs Organisation to be worth $49bn (£31.6bn) a year to its perpetrators.

Another issue is conceptual. Regulators glibly talk of the food supply “chain”. But it’s actually an extraordinary network – a kaleidoscope of factories and suppliers, all working together. And while access can be controlled and processes supervised in a simple linear chain, the network, with its multiple entry points, is not amenable to the EU control model. The assumption on which the controls are based is flawed.

Paterson would like more rigorous and random testing – a hands-on approach to food control. But this flies in the face of EU dogma, and that is why he has had to get on a plane to Brussels. A sympathetic commissioner has acceded to requests for permission to require more testing, but it is the Commission calling the shots. And that is no way to run a national food safety system.

Richard AE North is co-author with Christopher Booker of Scared to Death: From BSE to Global Warming. He blogs at www.eureferendum.com"

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Support for Scottish independence rises.

A UK Government report that said Scotland would be a new entity with all treaties and obligations written off after independence has seen a rise in support for independence.

From 'The Scotsman'...

"The Ipsos Mori poll for the Times shows a 4 percent increase in backing for Scotland as an independent country compared to the pollster’s last survey in October. The increase has been built on a stunning increase in support for independence among 18-24 year olds, up from 27 percent four months ago to 58 percent.

The thought of a new debt free country has proven popular in Scotland as it was assumed we would be liable for 10% of the UK debt run up under both Labour and Tory governments via the London Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulations. It would have cost Scotland about £120Bn if it was the admitted debt or £700Bn if hidden debt was included ( hidden bank underwritings /unfunded pension liabilities etc)

From the report...

" Scotland certainly was extinguished as a matter of international law, by merger either into an enlarged and renamed England or into an entirely new state.[UK]

It had previously been assumed that Scotland was an 'equal partner' in the United Kingdom with England, Wales and Northern Ireland but according to the UK report this isn't the case.

Speaking on STV's Scotland Tonight, the Tory MP David Mundell confirmed that Scotland had indeed been extinguished by joining the Act of Union in 1707 and so was never an 'equal partner' in the Union.

Asked by interviewer John MacKay if he was comfortable with a UK Government report that said Scotland had been “extinguished” by the 1707 Act of Union, the Tory MP replied “yes”.

It's not known how the misunderstanding that Scotland was an equal partner in the Act of Union arose but this new UK report denying any obligations on the part of Scotland means we will have a 'clean slate for a new state'.

A 'Newco Scotland' sounds good to me.

Monday, 11 February 2013

It all makes sense now.

I think I've worked out why we're getting donkey meat in our lasagne. Could you imagine trying to organise this lot ?.......

The Food Standards Agency (FSA).....

Independent committees and working groups These are the independent committees, working groups and forums that advise the Food Standards Agency and help ensure that the Agency's advice to consumers is always based on the best and most recent evidence. List of committees and working groups Social Science Research Committee (SSRC) Supports our work on: Science and research General Advisory Committee on Science (GACS) Supports our work on: Science and research Advisory Committee on Consumer Engagement Supports our work on: All committees Advisory Committee on Animal Feedingstuffs (ACAF) Supports our work on: Science and research Business and industry Better Regulation Advisory Group Supports our work on: Business and industry Stakeholder meeting on animal feed issues Supports our work on: Business and industry Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) Supports our work on: Science and research Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) Supports our work on: Science and research Policy and advice Committee on Toxicity (COT) Supports our work on: Science and research Policy and advice Committee on Carcinogenicity (COC) Supports our work on: Science and research Policy and advice Committee on Mutagenicity (COM) Supports our work on: Science and research Policy and advice UK-wide Food Hygiene Ratings Steering Group Supports our work on: Enforcement and regulation Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP) Supports our work on: Science and research Policy and advice Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) Supports our work on: Science and research All committees Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) Supports our work on: Science and research Policy and advice Defra Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) Supports our work on: Science and research Policy and advice Veterinary Products Committee (VPC) Supports our work on: Science and research Policy and advice Veterinary Residues Committee (VRC) Supports our work on: Science and research Policy and advice Consultative Group on Campylobacter and Salmonella in Chickens (CGCSC) Supports our work on: Policy and advice Enforcement Liaison Group Supports our work on: Enforcement and regulation Advisory Body for the Delivery of Official Controls Supports our work on: Business and industry Food Incidents Task Force Supports our work on: Business and industry Food and Drink Advertising and Promotion Forum Supports our work on: All committees Nutrition Strategy Steering Group Supports our work on: All committees Animal Feed Law Enforcement Liaison Group Supports our work on: Enforcement and regulation Scottish Food Enforcement Liaison Committee (SFELC) Supports our work on: Enforcement and regulation Chemical Hazard Identification and Risk Surveillance Group (CHaIRS) Supports our work on: Policy and advice Audit Advisory Committee Scotland Supports our work on: Enforcement and regulation LAEMS Joint Working Group Supports our work on: Enforcement and regulation Food Standards Sampling Co-ordination Working Group Supports our work on: Enforcement and regulation Consumer advisory panel Supports our work on: All committees Stakeholder Group on Current and Future Meat Controls Supports our work on: Business and industry More in this section Enforcement committees A number of liaison groups and forums work with and advise the Agency on enforcement issues. Food industries committees Committees, forums and working groups that advise the Agency. Nutrition committees This section includes information about the committees, forums and working groups that advise the Agency on nutrition issues. Safety and hygiene committees Committees, forums and working groups that advise the Agency on safety and hygiene issues. Scientific committees The work of the independent committees and working groups that advise the Food Standards Agency helps ensure that the Agency's advice to consumers is always based on the best and most recent scientific evidence. Back to top Share on email Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on print More Sharing Services 1 See also About our scientific committees Our Board More information on the FSA Board About Us About the FSA How we work Contact us Data and policies Jobs at the FSA Publications All Committees Enforcement committees Industry committees Nutrition committees Safety committees Scientific committees FSA in Northern Ireland FSA in Scotland FSA in Wales News and updates News centre Food alerts Allergy alerts Consultations Campaigns Policy and advice Acrylamide Additives or E numbers Allergy and intolerance Bisphenol-A (BPA) BSE Food poisoning GM foods How to complain Hygiene ratings Incidents Irradiated food Mycotoxins Nanotechnology Novel foods Official controls delivery review Packaging Pesticides Radioactivity in food Veterinary medicines Business and industry Butchers Catering and retail Livestock Manufacturers Agriculture Fish and shellfish Guidance notes Imports Exports Meat plants Wine Industry committees Industry publications Enforcement and regulation Approved premises Audit of local authorities Enforcement tools Training and funding Food alerts Monitoring food safety Regulation and legislation Search for a local authority Enforcement committees Science and research Applying for research funding Management and policy Research reports Our approach to science Scientific committees About Us About the FSA How we work Contact us Data and policies Jobs at the FSA Publications All Committees FSA in Northern Ireland FSA in Scotland FSA in Wales

But it gets worse. Since 2002 food safety has been an EU competence. So we now have the European Food safety Authority whose job is to set all the rules and regulations for monitoring the meat from slaughter to supermarket. This of course relies on honesty and proper paperwork etc. So that will never work.They recently had a meeting about animal welfare and we were invited to attend along with 100 other 'stakeholders' (sic)

From the meeting..

Nearly 100 participants from EU institutions, Member States, industry and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) met with scientific experts to discuss the identification of indicators and procedures to monitor animal welfare at slaughterhouses. At the meeting on 30 January, EFSA presented its work in this field and facilitated the exchange of information and experience among scientists and stakeholders. EFSA’s Panel on Animal Health and Welfare Panel (AHAW) will consider information gathered at the meeting in preparing four scientific opinions to be published by end of 2013. Yes, what's the rush. it's not as if there's anything wrong with the present procedures.

UK Ministers are powerless to introduce any new food safety measures and will just have to go along with the latest consensus from Brussels. Just the same as with every other piece of legislation or law in the UK.

But expect a lot of nonsense to be spoken in the next few weeks about what the UK is going to do about food safety in the UK. Throwing a smokescreen around the fact that food safety is an EU competence and we'll do what we're told..

Alaska under threat from Scottish independence ?

According to The Daily Mail Scotland would have to renegotiate 14,000 international treaties if it got independence from the rest of the United Kingdom in 'a huge blow to the First Minister Alex Salmond'.

One of the treaties would be the "Convention between the United Kingdom and the United States of America respecting the Boundary between the Dominion of Canada and Alaska"

There were also worried Ministers in Northern Rhodesia poring over their boundary maps as they contemplated a change to the " Delimitation of the Boundary between Northern Rhodesia and the Belgian Congo"

And if Scotland does 'go it alone' then how will this effect the Treaty with the King of Dahomey about Peace, Commerce, Slave Trade and Human Sacrifices ?

They will be burning the midnight oil at Holyrood right enough re negotiating all of these essential treaties.

Behanzin, the last King of Dahomey in West Africa, sadly died in 1906 in Algeria. His beloved country was a victim of French colonialism.

One of his famous quotes was ...

"You can remove a man from his country but you can never remove his country from a mans heart"

H/T Wings Over Scotland.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

新年快樂

So farewell to the year of the dragon....

And hello to the year of the snake..

It might be a tight year for consumers......

But things will pick up next year as it's the year of the horse !!.....

Roll on the year of the horse ! Special promotions on horse burgers etc !!

" Putting a kilt on " a news story.

"There's a time honoured tradition and technique in the Scottish Press known as “putting a kilt on it.” It means creating a Scottish dimension that turns a story that had little or nothing to do with Scotland into a Scottish news story. Usually, it’s harmless enough"

(Brian Wilson, former Labour Minister)

" SNP ‘asleep on job’ over horse meat scandal "

"Yesterday, Claire Baker, Scottish Labour’s environment spokeswoman, said..."the horse meat scandal has had an impact on Scotland, so it is disappointing that the Scottish Government has not shown any leadership and has taken so long to make a comment on the issue.....he has been asleep on the job [Scotland's food standards minister, Richard Lochhead] and has not been focused on the issues in his brief.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said..... lying low at a time of need is not what the minister should be doing."

Yes, the horse meat scandal is now the Scottish governments fault apparently. Nothing to do with the EU taking over food safety and the closing of hundreds of local abattoirs that failed to come up to EU 'standards'. Food inspectors sacked in their hundreds while we're unable to control what enters the UK from Europe. Our meat now shipped around the world and re labelled and re stamped willy nilly by a myriad of different countries. From Mexico to Romania. The Food Standards Agency washing their hands as usual. Nothing to do with us guv despite being established in 2000 after the bse in cattle crisis in order to prevent another catastrophe to UK beef ( asleep on the job ?). The Labour Party and the Lib Dems are putting a question mark over Scottish beef in order to attack the SNP. This is after the Scottish beef industry has spent years building up a reputation for quality.

Some more nice tartan horse pics..

Name that tartan..

(UPDATE 1..... 10th Feb 2013...The link to 'The Scotland on Sunday' article above has now changed it's headline to "Horsemeat scandal: Anger at Scottish Government " from this mornings headline which read "SNP asleep on job over horse meat scandal". The Lib Dem and Labour statements condemning the SNP have been removed and Tory MP Anne McIntosh is now asking for a ban on the import of beef from the EU until order is restored. More info here.)

(UPDATE 2....11th Feb 2013...'The Scotsman' are running the story "Horsemeat scandal: Consumers urged to eat Scotch beef" and have re introduced the SNP "falling asleep on the job" quote but attributed the quote to 'opposition parties' rather than Labour MSP Claire Baker who was directly quoted in the original Scotland on Sunday article .)

Friday, 8 February 2013

Mr Batty's Weather.

Mr Batty, the weather presenter for Scottish Television (STV), promised us 'some clear skies and sunshine' for yesterday and today.

Well the results are in and it's not looking good....

Here are some of the pictures I took yesterday.

The sun is there somewhere. Broughty Castle near where Bob Servant lives..

The silvery River Tay...

Not very 'sunny' here..

Not much better today either..

Quite a funky sky here. But not clear and blue. No.Definitely not...

My vegetable garden was a write off last year with the permanent gloom and damp weather causing my potatoes to die off by mid July and the rest of the veg only good for compost. Soggy and useless. I hope it's not going to be another year of damp and dreary weather. Everybody was going around like a zombie last year. Praying for warmth and sunshine and an end to the overcast skies. I feel a tune coming on.

Sea horse found in man's fish finger supper.

A Dundee man got a surprise last night when his wife made him his fish finger sandwiches for his supper. As he was about to bite into his favourite sandwich of fish fingers with brown sauce he bit into this..

Meanwhile supermarket suppliers are to expand into the retail market with a series of new shops across the country...

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Newsnight Scotland reports on electric cars.

Newsnight Scotland did a report last night on the new £2.6m investment in electric car charging points and I was going to update my previous blog post but the report deserved it's own post.

From the Newsnight report ( 13 mins into broadcast...available until the 13th Feb)

Keith Brown. Transport Minister.

"Seen driving the 'eye catching £80K Tesla' at Knockhill racetrack in Fife. This is an easy way of promoting the electric car"....."we're planning to be carbon zero by 2050 " said Mr Brown.

Didn't mention that the Tesla isn't on the approved list for the £5K subsidy on electric cars.

Didn't mention that carbon isn't the cause of 'global warming' and there's been no warming for nearly 20 years

Didn't mention that it's an EU driven programme with each country under a binding agreement to increase electric car charge points.

Didn't mention that it would take 26,000 years for our cars to be 'all electric carbon zero'. Whatever 'carbon zero' means.

John Curtis. 'Low Carbon Vehicle Ambassador' (sic).

"You can get a Mitsubishi iMiEV for only £13,000 to £14,000 'brand new from the showroom'

The cheapest iMiEV that I could source was £23990. This was the price with the £5k discount so the car would be nearly £29,000 in a free market.

Of course you would be able to buy a 'brand new from the showroom' Fiat Punto for about £3K if we were able to get a £5K discount as well.

Neil Greig. Institute of Advanced Motorists. (IAM)

"The cars are good for nipping up to the shops. Toyota has stopped making them. Public bodies should start buying them more."

You were doing well there Mr Greig until you mentioned our public bodies buying them more. They're already buying them and we have quite a few of them waddling around Dundee. There's even an electric ambulance somewhere. That will be for the electric car drivers who suffer from the new disorder called 'range anxiety' which afflicts people who never know when their electric car will run out of electric and conk out.

There will be grants available to fit 'free' charging points at your house. This will mean a house with a drive and a garage presumably. It looks like Lib Dem Transport Spokesman Tavish Scott was correct when he said it was just a green hobby for the middle classes. A spare car for them to run around in and look 'green'. Paid for by the rest of us.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Scotland's vehicles to be 'all electric' by 28013

With the announcement that Scotland is to invest £2.6m in increasing the number of electric car charging points across Scotland the Transport Minister Keith Brown said "I look forward to the day when the only vehicles on Scotland's roads are electric vehicles, and this funding will be a massive step towards that vision."

With approximately 2.6 million vehicles registered in Scotland and new sales of electric cars averaging 100 a year then Scotland's vehicles will be 'all electric' by 28013.

Of course this assumes that the 'plug in car grant' is maintained as this saw a surge in sales to 1,000 in 2012 throughout the UK. There's a £5,000 grant available to purchasers of private cars and £8,000 for white van man vehicles.

The 200 new charging points to be made available throughout Scotland works out at about £13,000 per electric car registered. So with the £5,000 grant for private car purchases this is a subsidy of £18,000 per vehicle.

Liberal Democrat Transport spokesman Tavish Scott said: "Until more drivers can afford green cars then charging points will only be used by middle class people whose second car is an electric model.

'Green' cars are too expensive for the average person with battery replacements costing the same as a cheap family hatchback. And of course they're not 'green' as they require to be charged using electricity from fossil fueled power stations and the manufacture of the vehicle negates any 'green' savings.

Mr Brown said "The move to EVs (electric vehicles) is good for our environment, helping to cut carbon emissions" so he has obviously not read the latest forecasts from the met office where they've found no warming for nearly 20 years despite a massive increase in CO2 worldwide. Any changes in temperature are thought to be due to normal variations.

Mr Hudson of the BBC weather centre said..."The new projection, if correct, would mean there will have been little additional warming for two decades despite rising greenhouse gases. It's bound to raise questions about the robustness and reliability of computer simulations that governments around the world are using in order to determine policies aimed at combating global warming."

Of course £2.6m for electric charging points is just a drop in the ocean compared the billions that will be wasted on windmills. And the SNP are just implementing the binding targets that have been set EU wide which will provide 800,000 charging points by 2020.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Rumours spread.

Of a butcher shop selling burgers with traces of beef...

Bernard Bresslaw favourite to play Huhne's lover in the movie "Huhne. From Windmills to Wandsworth"

Dom Jolly voted 'Splash Sex Symbol of the Year' and muses taking part in the new series of 'Splash' where the pool will be gradually drained over 6 weeks until there's just a wet sponge to cushion the belly flop...

Iwelumo not in Scotland squad for friendly against Estonia. Phew.

Chris Iwelumo's miss.

Ladies and Gentlemen please stand back while we deal with this chap.

It's reassuring to see that we still have the British response to a crisis.

In some countries if someone dressed as a baddie from central casting and started waving knives around at the Royal Guard they would end up with more perforations than a typhoo tea bag.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Climate Change Secretary Changes his mind.

(May 2011)

"Having taken responsibility for something I did ten years ago, the only proper course of action for me is now to resign my Eastleigh seat in Parliament, which I will do very shortly', he said outside Southwark Crown Court.

(Feb 2013)

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

Mr Huhne arriving at court.

I wonder if he shares a cell with a climate change 'denier'

Folly builders to go back to basics.

With reports that the windmill follys are falling over when it's too windy or because their securing bolts were loosened there are rumours that a top team of folly builders are heading to Easter Island to learn the ancient techniques of folly building.

The ancient follys didn't rely on bolts or thousands of tons of concrete to hold them in position and have stood for thousands of years....

An expert explained the secret that has kept the ancient follys standing for so long. "You just dig a massive big hole in the ground and then drop them in it. Easy peazy lemon squeezy" he explained.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Didn't look "half empty" to me..

I was a bit bemused when BBC Reporting Scotland reported last night that Tannadice would have 'half empty stands' today as Rangers were boycotting the Scottish cup 5th round game against Dundee United. Their BBC colleagues had been tweeting yesterday about the nearly 10,000 tickets sold so I'm not sure where Reporting Scotland got their information from.

It doesn't look half empty here. Johnny Russell's first goal for United after just 15 seconds..

United eased into the quarter finals with a 3 nil win although Rangers did have a good spell in the 2nd half. Naismith and Black of Rangers were sent off in the last ten minutes for a straight red and a 2nd yellow card respectively.

Naismith sent for an early shower...

Black walks off slowly. There was a bit of 'banter' between him and the United fans and he took it in good fun. Spinning the corner flag before going down the tunnel.

Despite all the hype before the game about possible crowd trouble and road closures etc I didn't see anything untoward. Apart from the usual banter and some terrible dancing in the stands. Some folk were dancing the 'macarena' but singing 'mcnamara' to celebrate the new manager's arrival ( Jackie McNamara)

I think this is how it should have been done..

(UPDATE...8th Feb 2013..Great video of United's goals)....