The Daily Mail is at it again with its hate speech, this time directed at those who “claim” to have allergies and of course the EU. No one really has any allergies you see, most people are just attention-seeking immigrant gypsies with 17 children who are out to ruin the lives of honest, hard-working, white British Christians.
It would be tempting to turn this into a generalised Daily Mail rant, but I have neither the time nor the inclination for that, so I will focus on its main claims in the hopes that anyone who reads the DM without irony might start to see it for what it really is… a hate-filled publication focussed on clicks, outrage and little to no semblance of truth. The reason it’s important to refute these articles, is because it’s the most widely read publication in the UK. Yeah, depressing isn’t it?
For those who don’t want to click through to the article (and I don’t blame you), I can summarise their article thusly:
- The EU laws on allergen labelling are changing to include restaurants. Restaurants must now provide allergen information for every dish they offer.
- Prue Leith, the restaurateur and cookery writer, thinks this will become a “bureaucratic nightmare”.
- Food chains such as KFC will find this “a simple task” but apparently it will be “an enormous burden for independents who change their dishes based on the fresh ingredients that are available”.
- 21 million Britons “claim” to have allergies, but they are probably lying.
Most of the outrage in this article seems to come from the chairman of the Restaurant Association, who seems to be an easily confused fellow. He said: “You have to audit every menu item, but also, if you buy in sauces, for example, you need to go to the supplier and get the allergen details from them, which is difficult and complicated… It is ridiculously complicated and almost impossible for most restaurants to comply with.”
That’s right folks. The chairman of the Restaurant Association thinks it is far too complicated for restaurants to clearly list the ingredients that go into their dishes.
So what is his solution?
“What people who have allergies need to do is to alert the staff when they visit a restaurant. If the staff are trained properly, they will then be able to explain which dishes they will have a problem with”
IF the staff are trained properly, they will probably still have to go to the kitchen and consult the chef, or possibly even the ingredients on some packaging. How is it easier to do that than to present the information to the customer in the first place? What’s more, the legislation states that the allergen information can be communicated verbally, and it does NOT have to be written anywhere. (Which can be problematic, but that’s a point for another rant…)
It should not be a challenging feat for a food service provider to tell me what’s in the food they are selling.
How is this point so hard to grasp?
The wider implications for schools is something far more important, in my opinion, and something that is briefly mentioned by the head of marketing at a wholesale food service distributor who caters for schools. She said: “There doesn’t appear to be very much useful research anywhere that allows us to understand what are the incidents of multiple allergies – how many children have allergies across all the 14 allergens. Do we just come up with a totally allergy free recipe or do you focus on egg, dairy, nuts?”
This is a really excellent point and I believe more research in this area would help schools comply with the regulations in a more successful and efficient way.
Now, if we coeliacs told the DM that gluten increases our risk of cancer, then just maybe they would listen up! 😉
‘independents who change their dishes based on the fresh ingredients that are available’
You know, I feel fairly certain that when we’re talking about ‘fresh ingredients that are available’, we’ll still be talking about the same basic ingredients. If you make a lobster bisque, you might change herbs or whatever according to season but it will ALWAYS have seafood in! If you bake sponge cakes but vary the fruit in it, there will ALWAYS be wheat and gluten in it.
As for Prue Leith’s comments, it’s typical of someone who knows food but not food allergies. An allergy can be a breath of creativity into someone’s life because suddenly, they have to work out how to create great food without what is often a key ingredient. Ignorance like that breeds prejudice in the industry and makes life harder for everyone.
Yet more hate-mongering by the Daily Mail!
The Happy Coeliac says
“it’s typical of someone who knows food but not food allergies” <--- This x1000! I have met so many foodies who look down their nose at those with food allergies. And if you're cooking with fresh ingredients, you'll know what goes in!
One of the things that concerns me is that Pure Leith runs a very well-known cookery school – where presumably she is passing on her concerns and prejudices to a whole new generation of chefs.
Meanwhile, I (with no cookery training beyond what I’ve received from home/school), somehow manage to feed my family food which is gluten, dairy and soya free. If I can do it, why can’t she??
The Happy Coeliac says
I know, and don’t Leith’s even run a gluten-free course? There must be some serious mental gymnastics involved in looking down on those with allergies while simultaneously making money off them.