|A Food Brexit: Time To Get Real
|The UK is unprepared for the most complex ever change to its food system, which will be required before Brexit, according to a new briefing paper published by SPRU, titled 'A Food Brexit: time to get real'.|
Food Brexit report - cover imageThe report, by leading food policy specialists Professor Erik Millstone (University of Sussex), Professor Tim Lang (City, University of London) and Professor Terry Marsden (Cardiff University), concludes that leaving the European Union poses serious risks to consumer interests, public health, businesses and workers in the food sector.
Its authors claim that this is because there is no Government vision for UK food or agriculture, yet prices, quality, supply and the environment will all be adversely affected even with a ‘soft’ Brexit. They warn that British consumers have not been informed about the “enormous” implications for their food, a third of which comes from within the European Union.
The 88-page report is the first major review of the ways leaving the EU will have an impact on UK food and farming.
Professor Millstone said: “In the EU, UK consumers and public health have benefited from EU-wide safety standards, without which there will be a risk of the UK having less safe and nutritious products.”
Professor Lang said: “UK food security and sustainability are now at stake. A food system which has an estimated three to five days of stocks cannot just walk away from the EU, which provides us with 31 per cent of our food. Anyone who thinks that this will be simple is ill-informed.”
The report examines available industry and government data, policies and literature on a wide range of issues including production, farming, employment, quality, safety standards and the environment. It highlights 16 key issues that must be addressed by the Government in its negotiations with the EU.
Among the 16 issues which the paper urges Ministers to address are needs for:
* An urgent need for a clear integrated plan for UK food – the UK government currently has no UK food policy
* Clarification on food crossing borders, particularly from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland
* New legislation to replace 4,000 pieces of EU law relating to food
* Scientific and regulatory infrastructure, replacing at least 30 EU-based bodies
* Farm viability and subsidies to replace the
EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
* Fishing policies that are more than rejecting the 1964 pre-EU London Convention
* Food labour – 35 per cent of food manufacturing labour is from the EU; more in parts of catering and horticulture
* Some idea of from where UK food will come – as only around 54-61 per cent is currently UK-sourced
* Tariffs – retail industry says tariffs could raise imported food prices by 22 per cent post-Brexit
* Prices, which are already rising and likely to rise more, will become more volatile, especially harming poor consumers
* Quality standards throughout supply chains, which are currently set by the EU, may well decline, and may do so abruptly.
The report draws on more than 200 sources, including many interviews with senior figures across the food chain, as well as official, industry and scientific documents and statistics.
It warns that a “Food Brexit” is of unprecedented importance and is happening at a time when the UK food system is already vulnerable, with self-sufficiency also in decline.
Professors Millstone, Lang and Marsden say their report is a wake-up call to the public and a Government that has little experience of food negotiations and has failed to warn consumers of the disruptions ahead.
The report makes detailed recommendations for each of the 16 key issues explored. They call on the public, civil society and academics to put pressure on Government and MPs to:
* Publish policy commitment to a low-impact, health-oriented UK food system
* Create a new statutory framework for UK food, which authors term “One Nation Food”
* Commit to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate agreement in any new food framework
* Establish a new National Commission on Food and Agriculture to provide oversight and review, and to be a source of advice trusted by the British public.
Professor Marsden said: “The UK’s food system already faces unprecedented challenges on environment and jobs – we see real dangers that these are already being dislocated by Brexit uncertainties.”
Professor Lang said: “At least the UK entered World War Two with emergency plans. No-one has warned the public that a Food Brexit carries real risks of disruption to sources, prices and quality. There is solid evidence about vulnerabilities ranging from diet-related ill-health to ecosystems stress. Food is the biggest slice of EU-related regulations and laws, yet so far the Government has only sketchily flagged a new Agriculture Act and Fisheries Act in the Queen’s Speech.
British consumers spend £201 billion on food a year, with the entire food chain contributing about £110 billion gross value added (GVA). Of this, agriculture accounts for less than £9 billion GVA, and fisheries £0.7 billion GVA. The Government has provided next to no details on agriculture and fisheries, and there has been total silence on the rest of the food chain where most employment, value adding and consumer choice are made. With the Brexit deadline in 20 months, this is a serious policy failure on an unprecedented scale. Anyone would think they want a drop into the World Trade Organisation abyss.”
|Item last updated: Thursday July 06 2017 03:28|
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|Greening Commercial Transport: Biogas Potential As HGV Fuel
|New research shows that biomethane generated from food and drinks process residues has growing potential as a low-carbon alternative to diesel used in commercial vehicles. The study was carried out by Aker Associates Ltd for Clearfleau Ltd, the leading provider of on-site bioenergy plants for food and beverage processors. The results was presented at the UK AD & Biogas Expo 2017 in Birmingham last week.|
The report focuses on the use of biomethane for transport (BfT) technology in the commercial vehicle market, assessing drivers for change and barriers that may inhibit wider adoption of biomethane in commercial vehicles. Also, its potential use with on-site Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plants on industrial sites – a sector in which Clearfleau is a leading provider.
The report’s author, Andrew Winship of Aker Associates, said: “The pressure is on both government and business to reduce carbon emissions from transport, which lags behind other sectors in the adoption of renewable fuels. This requires new and innovative solutions. We expect to see growing numbers of food and drink processing companies looking to use this technology, which offers a low-carbon alternative to diesel for fuelling their commercial vehicle fleets. With both suitable vehicles and fuels becoming more available, supported through legislation and tax treatment, biomethane as a low-carbon transport fuel is set to grow substantially.”
Diesel is currently the dominant fuel for commercial vehicles but companies are under social, political and environmental pressure to find low-carbon renewable alternatives. And with diesel prices forecast to rise further, the economic argument will become more compelling. Since electric vehicle technology is not viable for large HGVs, gas-powered vehicles are becoming more popular with their efficiency and performance also improving.
BfT technology is particularly appropriate for the dairy sector, as creameries use vehicles to collect raw milk from local farms and bring it to their sites for processing. Clearfleau’s unique approach provides a circular economy solution, enabling collection and delivery trucks to be powered by biomethane generated on site from the by-products of making cheese.
More food manufacturers and distilleries are looking at on-site solutions for their byproducts and residues, using biogas generated in Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engines or boilers. However, the recent decline in Feed-in Tariff (FIT) and Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) rates mean that using biomethane as an alternative fuel to diesel is becoming more economic, with support through the government’s Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO).
Also speaking at the Biogas Expo, Richard Gueterbock, Marketing Director of Clearfleau, said: “Using process residues to produce biomethane for transport fuel on factory sites is a perfect example of the circular economy in action. Clearfleau has a proven track record of delivering our on-site digestion technology for processing residues and byproducts and we’re excited that we can now offer clients an alternative use for the clean biogas they generate. Our report will help to stimulate greater interest from the food industry and other stakeholders.”
The research indicates that more should be done by Government working with industry to stimulate investment and promote the use of cleaner biofuels in the commercial transport sector, including the classification of biomethane as a development fuel in the revised RTFO.
Currently the return on investment could be circa 14%, varying according to whether the gas is supplied as Compressed or Liquid Biomethane, the level of incentives and other site-specific factors. With ongoing improvements in engine technology and greater interest in the supply of low-carbon fuels from residues, returns in the vehicle fuel sector should compare even more favourably to the on-site generation of electricity in the more widely used CHP engine.
To download a summary of the report, please visit http://clearfleau.com/summary-of-report-on-biogas-for-commercial-vehicle-fuel-july-2017/
|Item last updated: Thursday July 06 2017 03:28|
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|Processed foods: The Pros And Cons From EUFIC
|In a recent consumer study, EUFIC investigated the understanding of processed food among the UK participants. |
This Q&A summarises the topics explored in the study.
1. What is food processing?
Food processing is any method used to turn fresh foods into food products.1 This can involve one or a combination of the following: washing, chopping, pasteurising, freezing, fermenting, packaging and many more.2 Food processing also includes adding components to food, for example to extend shelf life, or adding vitamins and minerals to improve the nutritional quality of the food (fortification).3,4
2. What are the methods of food processing?
Food processing includes traditional (heat treatment, fermentation, pickling, smoking, drying, curing) and modern methods (canning, freezing, pasteurisation, ultra-heat treatment, high pressure processing, or modified atmosphere packaging). Some of the common methods are described below:
The food is heated to a high temperature and then stored in an air-tight container.
The breakdown of sugars using bacteria, yeasts or other microorganisms under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation is notably used in the production of alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer, and cider, in the preservation of foods such as sauerkraut, dry sausages, and yoghurt, but also for raising dough in bread production.
Food temperatures are reduced to below -18°C to decrease the activity of harmful bacteria. The process can be used to preserve the majority of foods including fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and ready meals.
Modified atmosphere packaging
Air inside a package is substituted by a protective gas mix, often including oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen, to extend the shelf life of fresh food products - usually of fruits, vegetables, meat and meat products, and seafood.
Food is heated to at least 72°C for at least 15 seconds to kill most of the microorganisms, and then cooled rapidly to 5°C. Pasteurisation is used widely in preservation of canned food, dairy products, juices and alcoholic beverages.
A process of heat and chemical treatment of food to help preserve it by exposing it to smoke from burning material such as wood. Smoked foods usually include types of meat, sausages, fish or cheese. Smoked meat and meat products should not be consumed in excess of the current guidelines. For more information, read our recent science brief.
Food additives play an important role in preserving the freshness, safety, taste, appearance and texture of processed foods. Food additives are added for particular purposes, whether to ensure food safety, or to maintain food quality during the shelf-life of a product. For example, antioxidants prevent fats and oils from becoming rancid, while preservatives prevent or reduce the growth of microbes (e.g. mould on bread). Emulsifiers are used for instance in improving the texture of mayonnaise, or stopping salad dressings from separating into oil and water.
3. What are the reasons and consequences of food processing?
Makes food edible
Grain crops, for example wheat and corn, are not edible in their natural state. Processing techniques, such as milling and grinding, turn them into flour, after which they can be made into breads, cereals, pasta and other edible grain-based products.
Safety, shelf life, and preservation
Processing improves food safety by removing harmful microorganisms. The main methods are pasteurisation, air-tight packaging, and the use of preservatives.
Food processing can affect the nutritional quality of foods in both ways: it can enhance it, for instance by adding components that were not present, like vitamin D, or by lowering fat, sodium or sugar. It can also cause some vitamins and minerals to be lost, for example through excessive heating or freezing.
Processing and packaging technologies help to answer modern day time constraints by providing a range of convenient foods: ready meals, bagged salads, sliced and canned fruits and vegetables that take little time to prepare and can be consumed “on the go”.
Food processing can decrease the cost of foods. For example, frozen vegetables have a similar nutritional value as fresh ones, but at a lower price, as they have already been prepared, do not contain inedible parts, can be bought in bulk, and can last longer. This way, processing increases the shelf life of food, and decreases the amount of waste, reducing thereby the overall costs of food production.
4. How does processed food fit into a healthy diet?
Most foods consumed these days are processed at least to some degree. They allow us to enjoy a varied diet that goes together with a busy modern lifestyle. Many people don’t have the option to grow their own, or may have limited time to cook complicated meals from scratch. Processed food reduces the amount of time needed, while a range of foods of different processing levels may fit into a healthy diet. Minimally processed foods such as frozen or canned fruits and vegetables provide valuable sources of nutrition, with greater convenience and lower price. Highly processed foods, such as healthier types of breakfast cereals, can still be a part of a healthy diet.
Some processed foods do contain additional salt, sugar or fat. Canned savoury foods and cured meats, for example, are often high in salt. Checking the levels of salt, sugar and fat and comparing with the recommended intakes helps us choose the healthier option, and eat appropriate portions. This encourages us, for example, to pick the tinned fruit in juice rather than in syrup, or chose canned fish in water rather than in oil. It also helps to be mindful and eat in moderation food products such as biscuits, chocolate bars, burgers, pizzas and similar.
For more information co to: http://www.eufic.org/en/food-production/article/processed-food-qa
|Item last updated: Thursday July 06 2017 03:28|
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