Facts not theory

Last week I commented on the irony of the fact that the Daily Mail was carrying a feature, written by scare-monger - I mean food writer - Joanna Blythman, complaining about how UK consumers are terrified of food.

I suppose it is hardly a surprise to see, the following week, the same newspaper carrying a scare story suggesting that consumers were

being warned off eating mutton.

However, much as I would like to put the boot into yet another example of irresponsible behaviour from the UK's favourite national newspaper, in this case, the finger of blame lies squarely at the nanny-ing figure of the FSA.

The last thing anyone in the industry wants is another BSE, but with such a dangerous and emotive subject, it is not the kind of word to be bandied about too freely, certainly not within ear-shot of the likes of the Daily Mail.

The FSA may well say it is simply representing the interests of the consumer - but is it in the interests of the consumer to create the kind of scare which can decimate an entire sector of the red-meat industry?

The fact that there is "no evidence" of a risk to humans from the disease has not stopped the newspapers seizing on the story - they need little encouragement on such matters.

While the FSA has a duty to ensure the food we eat is safe, I would suggest that it also has a duty to ensure its advice is based on more than just theories before stirring up a potentially devastating food scare.

All in all, the news must have come as a major blow to a sector that has been seeing a resurgence in popularity, with mutton starting to appear on menus in many a fashionable eatery backed by the encouragement and promotion of the Prince of Wales.

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