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Muckspreader Private Eye April 18 2007

Pity Britain's poor beekeepers. For 15 years they have been fighting the assault of the deadly varroa mite, which has all but wiped out the billions of wild honey bees which used to play a key part in pollinating our flowers, fruit and vegetables. More recently they have been faced by a new disaster, with the arrival, supposedly from America, of the condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has been mysteriously killing off millions of bees in their hives. Now, to add insult to injury, our old friends the Food Standard Agency have persuaded Ofcom to ban television advertising for honey, on the grounds that it is contributing to the epidemic of obesity in Britain's children.

It seems barely credible but Ofcom, at the FSA's behest, has included honey along with Marmite, cheese and olive oil, as 'junk foods' which can no longer be advertised to children, on the grounds that these are bad for their health and can make them fat, But it will still be perfectly legal, under the Ofcom and FSA rules, to broadcast commercials for chicken nuggets, diet cola, white bread and oven chips.

Honey's crime, according to the FSA, is that it contains sugar. No matter that the sugar is entirely natural, as opposed to the white stuff processed out of sugar beet. What the FSA's clever officials have done is to create what they call a Nutrient Profiling Model, based on 100 gram measures. They have worked out that 100 grams of the sugar in honey, like 100 grams of Marmite, would be fattening, and therefore Britain's children must at all costs be kept away from the stuff.

To anyone but the officials of the FSA, this is so self-evidently absurd - honey has for millennia been regarded as one of the healthiest foods on the planet - that a campaign has been launched by the Grocer magazine, backed by the British Beekeepers Association and an array of nutritionists, to shower Ed Richards, Ofcom's chief executive, with letters of protest, asking him to withdraw this ridiculous diktat. Mr Richards should perhaps be reminded of some of the choicer examples of the FSA's previous record in grasping the realities of which foodstuffs are actually dangerous or not.

This was the organisation which some years back tried to close down a whole industry,employing 2,000 people making sausage skins out of lamb's intestines, because it was terrified that sheep might catch BSE. The FSA had been told this by Defra and Professor Roy Anderson, after Defra's.testing of sheep's brains had shown clear signs of BSE vacuoles. They then discovered that the brains they had been inspecting came from cows and not sheep after all. Another famous FSA stunt was its attempt to close down Britain's #20 million a year cockle industry, because its scientists had found that, when they injected mice with large quantities of cockle meat, the mice all died of what was described as 'an unidentified toxin'. They then discovered that what was killing the mice was not the cockle flesh but the solvents they used to bind it together. At least the FSA hasn't so far claimed that honey must be banned because it has discovered that bees can catch BSE. But we only need give them time.



































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