Food Fraud v Food Fairness and Our Recipe for Disaster

I’ve found myself being thought of as something of a food writer in the time I’ve been a journalist. This may hark back to my days as editor of the Eastern Daily Press Norfolk magazine and its associated food awards, but I’m not a food expert in the way that Mary Kemp, or Vanessa Scott or Ian McAndrew can justly claim to be, I’m a food enthusiast.

As part of my latest employment role, I manage a magazine entitled RECOVERY for the insolvency practitioners’ membership group R3. This month, as chance would have it, one of the articles examines the notion that food producers are being pushed to the brink of bankruptcy as a result of natural disasters. Too much rain, or too little and the resulting knock-on effects, for example. But a phrase from expert Duncan Swift has been echoing since I read it: “I expect an increase in the incidence of ‘food frauds’ in the supply chain,” he wrote, more than a month ago.

With such great pressure on food producers and processors to keep their prices low, battling rising costs on top is a recipe for disaster. Often losing the family business also means losing the family home, Duncan warns as he looks at all the factors in his article.

The news that crooks have targeted our already fragile food economy to make a quick buck just isn’t a laughing matter. Facebook and Twitter are alive with jokes and witticisms about the discovery of horsemeat in beef products but I’m afraid I can’t find even gallows humour funny when it comes to such food fraud, I just feel very sad for all those farmers and food producers who are struggling to bring us the best they can, working out costs and margins so they can make a living, without breaking the bank or doing harm to the environment they are guardians to. Can’t we do them a favour and be prepared to spend a little more on our food so they can keep a roof over their heads while maintaining good conditions for their livestock? The race for the cheapest burger, or the best value veg isn’t the way to go.

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