Keep celebrity chefs and food marketeers off menu

CELEBRITY chef Richard Corrigan sells high-priced, good-looking food which is far from the reality of most people’s lives. More power to him.

However, his recent call for Bord Bia to be done away with is as credible as those porn stars who run for elected office just for the media profile.

A quick look at the menu at Richard Corrigan’s fancy Mayfair restaurant in London shows foie gras on the menu. This is fattened duck liver derived from cruelly force-feeding ducks by inserting long mechanical tubes into their stomachs. This practice is banned in, among other countries, Ireland, Britain and , Denmark. The product itself is now banned in Israel and will be banned in California from 2012.

Instead of bashing Bord Bia, maybe Mr Corrigan should get his own kitchen in order first. It should be remembered the marketing of food is often devoid of reality. Natural does not automatically mean safe, local does not always mean more environmentally friendly, organic is not always better for you. Food, and our relationship with it, is complex.

For example, your food editorial (May 9) appeared in the same issue as Darina Allen’s cup cake recipe. According to the recipe, each cup cake would end up with a staggering 39 grams of sugar, which is over 50% more than a king-size Mars bar.

Yet your editorial, while raising the issue of obesity, feels no need for their published recipes to contain nutritional information. Why? Because it is complex.

If we are to take the food and agriculture sector seriously, we must take the average consumer seriously.

Does the consumer really want to pay for the estimated €30m cost per annum for GM-free dairy and beef products? Unlikely. Research has shown that between 2000 and 2007, the number of calls per year to the Food Safety Authority on GM food has never exceeded 0.8% (70 calls) of their total yearly food information queries. In addition, approved GM foods are safe and have a better food safety record than chefs. There is no need for all Irish food to be GM-free as that would force extra cost on everyone and remove consumer choice. However, for people who want to pay extra because they are ignorant of the facts, let them.

Irish food can be nutritional, safe and sustainable. The consumer needs to know food facts and how to shop smart for dietary and financial reasons.

Unfortunately, currently neither Richard Corrigan’s fearmongering nor Bord Bia’s marketing will provide them with such information.

Taking food safety, nutritional or food science advice from celebrity chefs and marketing agencies is like taking tax advice from those who do the art on your euro tenner. Buyer beware.

Shane Morris

Coolkill

Sandyford

Dublin 18

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