NEWSLETTER June - July 2008


The Board’s recommendations to Ministers comprise public consultation on the following proposals:

• Introduction of time-based charging for MHS services, which would replace the current charging arrangements (where most meat plant operators are charged a flat rate based on throughput).
• Reduction of current subsidies, which would result in hygiene charges paid by meat plant operators increasing by 12% (inclusive of inflation) by 2009/2010.
• Introduction of new charges for controls on the removal of Specified Risk Material (SRM) from 2009/2010. In the first year of charging this will recover 5% of the costs of these controls (approximately £0.5m).

If Ministers agree, a full public consultation will be carried out in September. Introducing the FSA’s important decision, Chief Executive, Tim Smith, describes it as an “opportunity to make improvements to the inspection regime, and maintain standards of public health and animal welfare in the business for many years to come.”

After “long and hard” thinking about the proposals for increased charging, Tim Smith sees general agreement that the level of subsidy from Government to the industry has been “too high in recent years and the changes we are proposing should ensure that the system will become fairer for both the industry and the taxpayer. The MHS is making huge strides on its own cost reduction plan. Its five regional offices are in the process of being closed and the gross cost of operations will have fallen by £14.4m by 2009/2010.” While the proposed increases will reduce the subsidy to the industry in Great Britain from £28m to £25m, the MHS’s overall plan is to reduce operating costs of £91m to £74m by 2012/13.
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We too follow development carefully: they can offer greater choice in meals and recipes eligible for conclusion in our Portfolio of eating plans to tickle the taste buds of meat- frees and dairy –frees aiming at the best of cruelty-free meals built round the pulses of many cuisines depending on the thrifty nitrogen – fixing crops. Mushy peas and pea pudding are one thing, but those tins of baked beans in spicy tomato sauces look promising for veggies.

The entry of the vast Premier Foods Organisation into the veggie market and consequent take-overs and changes have seen renewed life in Cauldron Foods and Quorn, for instance, as well as sallies into the Heinz dominated market for baked beans in various sauces and spicy versions. Own brands have been less leaders in supermarkets and now the major manufacturers and retailers are in hot competition with new varieties reflecting Indian, Thai, and Mexican influences and offering promise and opportunities for veggies, many of whom make frequent recourse to palatable and digestible offerings based on beans.

However, Premier Foods and Branston’s, one of the brands in their collection (which has also taken over Cross and Blackwell), have increasingly fallen victim to the temptation of beefing up plant-based proteinaceous foods with by products left from meat and dairy industries or with alternatives to ingredients in the FSA red-light area of nutrient profiling (such as sugars, salt, fat and diary products) honey, maple syrup and lactose may add some value, but essentially they are just replacements for ingredients that may already be in excessive quantity even in current trends of reduction.

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We are saddened to announce that Conrad Latto, President of VEGA for many years, died on 6 July, aged 93. We will be paying tribute to Conrad's life in a future article.

Anna Karlsson, Research Officer for VEGA for three years, moved on to pastures (well, rainforests) new at the end of May. We wish Anna all the best for the future.

VEGA needs help with administration, research and campaigning work. Part-time, full-time, paid and voluntary positions possible. For more details, please email: or phone 020 8902 0073

Salt reduction targets on cured meats, ham, and bacon were not only "totally unrealistic" but also presented a serious threat to public health, declared Claire Cheney, director general of the Provision Trade Federation. "The shelf life of vacuum-packed ham has already had to be reduced by a week to comply with nitrate reduction regulation. This will focus us to reduce it further and with that come serious food-safety concerns, not least the risk of botulism."

She was delivering a shot in advance of a program on tonight's C4 Dispatches that deals with the sandwich trade and focuses on contents of fat and salt. The levels of these items in preserved meats has troubled the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the preserved meat trade for some time, even to the point of taking some familiar products off the market. Ham manufacturers have been told to reduce salt content to 1.75g per 100g by 2012, a reduction of 30% on the current 2010 target. Further reductions are intended for salt in bread, ready meals, cakes, dairy products, cooking sauces, crisps, and snacks. Manufacturers and the public are to be involved in further consultations.

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Writing in the Meat Trades Journal, Anthony Whitear felt impelled to state that "Now we are in the 21st century all ritual slaughter should be outlawed as barbaric." He described himself as "a former slaughterhouse and butcher shop owner, so I am speaking from experience."

He continued: "I have seen ewes having their throats cut, free themselves from the hoist and run around the slaughterhouse for several minutes until they drop to the floor from sheer exhaustion caused by a lack of blood. If the meat trade wants to get a better image, it should stop this cruelty immediately. As I understand it ritual slaughter is used to ensure no blood remains in the animal so the carcase keeps slightly longer, especially in hot climates. But now with everyone in Great Britain that argument is dead. So there is absolutely no reason for this cruelty to go on."

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Headlines from the Sunday Times (8 June 2008) and the Glasgow Daily Record (9 June 2008) tell the sad tale of "a girl of 12 brought up by her parents on a strict vegan" diet who "has been admitted to hospital with a degenerative bone condition said to have left her with the spine of an 80-year-old." The story has been circulated worldwide.

Doctors are "under pressure" to report the couple, from Glasgow, to police and social workers amid concerns her health and welfare "may have been neglected in pursuit of their beliefs." The youngster, who has been fed on a strict meat- and dairy-free diet from birth, is being treated at the city's Royal Hospital for Sick Children. She is said to have "a severe form of rickets" and to have suffered a number of fractured bones. The condition "is caused by a lack of vitamin D, which is needed to absorb calcium and is found in liver, oily fish and dairy produce."

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Juxtaposition of articles and columns in the national press sometimes tells of journalistic nudges and hints – and of partiality without risk – so the Guardian’s page on 22 July 2008 revealed spacing and placing with interesting intent by running its column headed “Animal testing rise to be allied to GM experiments” alongside a bigger piece entitled “Drug trial hope for men with prostate cancer”, which in its headline described “Treatment shows promise against aggressive illness.”


The adjoining report gave the number of scientific procedures carried out on animals in Britain. They rose by 6% last year to just over 3.2m. Most (83%) used rodents; the number of procedures involving monkeys was down 6%, with 3,125 being used. This year’s figures from the Home Office represent a sixth consecutive annual rise. The number of scientific procedures undertaken on animals is now 18% higher (nearly half a million more) than in the year 2000.

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  1. Letter to The Grocer
  2. Unsafe Water Supplies in the Midlands

VEGA comments on consultations:







Hon. Research Adviser:
Dr Alan Long

Dr Conrad Latto

14 Woodland Rise
Middlesex UB6 0RD
Tel / Fax: 020 89020073

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