Wednesday's Letters: The ongoing need for accurate and honest food labelling

THE Yorkshire Post's ''Clearly British' campaign has been absolutely right to raise the issue of accurate and honest food labelling.

However, your recent article on the misleading labelling of sea food (Yorkshire Post, January 10) suggests there is still some way to go.

I strongly believe that consumers have the right to know what they are eating and where it has come from.

I have supported legislation currently going through the European Parliament to make it mandatory for key nutritional information and the genuine country of origin of food to be displayed on the front of packaging. The new rules are expected to be fully approved and passed into law this year.

While legislation provides a lead, I also believe food producers and retailers have a responsibility to ensure their own customers are properly and honestly informed.

That's why I support a national traffic-light guide already used by some supermarkets to give busy consumers a quick 'at-a-glance' indication of whether foods are high in fats, sugars or salts – something Conservative MEPs voted against recently. I also support labelling the calorie content of alcohol, again, opposed by Conservative MEPs.

Consumers are increasingly showing that they care where their food comes from and what they eat. It is therefore surely in the interests of both the food industry and animal welfare that this interest is met.

From: Linda McAvan, Labour MEP, High Street, Wath-upon-Dearne, Rotherham.

From: Ivor R Johns, Heanor Road, Smalley, Derbyshire.

I HAVE every sympathy with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and "fellow super chefs" in their campaign against the inexcusable discarding of fish back into the sea, due to the EU's quota system (Chris Bond, Yorkshire Post, January 11).

And one has to wish the best of luck to Yorkshire fishing leaders in their representations to EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanki.

It goes back a long way of course. In the early 1970s, Prime Minister Edward Heath gave away British fishing waters to the then EEC, as a community resource.

It was part of a 'swallow it all and swallow it whole' gesture to join the euro project (I recall, while in Whitby on holiday, slogans such as "Keep the EEC out of our fishing grounds". Absolutely right – but totally ignored by Heath and later governments).

Now our Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon, says he wants a complete overhaul of the Common Fisheries Policy.

But whatever happened to those calls, a few years ago, for a withdrawal from the CFP – and from the Common Agricultural Policy as well?

"Repatriation" of powers was the call. Since when were these objectives dropped by some of our most prominent political leaders?

From: RD Leakey, Giggleswick, Settle.

WITH reference to the article by Chris Bond on fish quotas (Yorkshire Post, January 11), the terrible waste of modern fishing technology is purposely imposed by the finance industry to make the stocks decline as quickly as possible.

It is the absence of fish which is the easiest to cull that the finance industry most wants to happen in order to prevent the price of other food falling. Too much fish in the sea would just reduce food prices. The television programme, Hugh's Fish Fight, was very interesting.

All the publicity about destroying the fish is to condition the public to accepting the absence of these important stocks.

The solution is undersea fish farming technology that no financier would be such a fool to promote, even if they were given the money to do so, because that would only reduce the price of other food.

Reading between the lines

From: Peter Robson, Waydale Close, Kirbymoorside.

IAN McMillan's lament over threatened library closures (Yorkshire Post, January 15) coincides with the news that readers in one Home Counties' town faced with such a threat, have stripped shelves bare in protest.

Closures of libraries are an act of cultural and educational vandalism, yet to what extent are we all collectively responsible? If resources are seen to be under-exploited and their use declining, they are an obvious soft target.

I wonder, for instance, what proportion of the citizens of Darfield exploit the wealth of imagination, information and education which their library offers?

There are echoes here of the Beeching cuts – because many branch lines were under-used and perceived as unviable, they were axed, and we now regret the lack of rail links to the likes of Pocklington, Ripon and Wetherby.

Either we use a resource or we lose it.

Plea for social care support

From: Sarah Hewitt, Fieldway Rise, Leeds.

At a time when local councils are deciding how they are going to make massive savings to their budgets, I am urging them not to forget how vital social care support is for people with a learning disability.

Everyday activities such as washing, eating and dressing, as well as using transport, going to work or buying food, can become impossible for people if essential support is cut.

The Government has committed itself to fairness, dignity and respect for people with disabilities and has promised additional funding for social care – it has also stated that there is no need to cut support for social care.

Any decision by our local council to cut frontline services would be a direct betrayal of the promises made to some of the most at-risk people in our society.

A lesson in common sense

From: Eileen Jones, Mytholmroyd.

IT is time that perspective, a little common sense, and some respect were applied to the frenzy surrounding the "martyrdom" of Leonara Rustamova (Yorkshire Post, January 13).

No school governing body takes lightly, frivolously or without due consideration of all the evidence, the decision to sack a teacher.

These are professional people, guided by the LEA's education and legal experts, whose first responsibility is to the welfare and education of all the young people in their care.

Should we not consider that they were acting in the best interests of the entire school community?

The respect is due to the rest of the staff at Calder High School who have, with quiet dignity, refrained from making any comment about the distracting and disrupting effects of their former colleague's behaviour.

They, too, are using innovative and creative methods daily to engage all the students, including the disaffected and the unwilling, to learn, and they are doing so with considerable success, but without any recourse to craving populist approval, and without the need to pillory the reputation of the school and its management team.

Schools axe under attack

From: Vicky Sawyer, Wenning Avenue, High Bentham, North Yorkshire.

I STRONGLY object to the proposal to close Ingleton Middle School and Settle Middle School. The public were grossly misled during the consultation into thinking closure of these two schools would safeguard sixth-form education in North Craven and the future of some of the smaller primary schools.

This is a totally false claim and, in fact, closure of these two schools will bring about further North Craven closures in the next five years, because of a rapid increase in out-of-county drift, as a direct result of this proposal.

Settle Primary already plans to build further classroom space, which will jeopardise small primary schools in its immediate vicinity, and Queen Elizabeth School, at Kirkby Lonsdale, is currently building extra classroom space to take more pupils from the Ingleton area, as are some of its feeder primary schools.

While savings do need to be made, the choice of the executive will completely destroy North Craven education within 10 years, and the decision must be put before full council, if the future of this rural area is to be dealt with fairly.

A waste of good food

From: Graham Lund, Dalrymple Street, Girvan.

I HAVE worked in the food industry for 40 years and am still concerned at the levels of wastage.

While there has been recent progress in permitting the legal sale of non-standard shaped and slightly blemished fruit, much remains to do.

In the hotel business, there are some problems to eradicate. Some businesses allow considerable material losses.

If a batch of food is partially unused, the remainder is often discarded nonchalantly if the mark-up on the amount sold more than covers the cash lost.

Some firms provide staff meals, yet discard food not suitable, ie too expensive for staff. They end up paying twice and still wasting good food.

All those involved in the food chain should strive to ensure that food is consumed. Any losses should be composted or disposed of sensibly.

Where have all the entrepreneurs gone?

From: Mike Smith, Huddersfield.

YOUR "Power and pay" analysis (Yorkshire Post, January 14) on the region's movers and shakers was most enlightening when viewed against the challenge of restoring our economic fortunes.

Of the 50 names listed, 38 are paid directly out of the public purse and "produce" nothing. It might also be assumed there are several subordinates in their hierarchies on salaries and bonuses not too far behind.

Only seven of the 50 names might qualify as "industrial" and producers of goods or services essential to restoring our economic recovery; assuming you can include ice cream in that.

Among the seven, three are in charge of public utilities having effective monopolies with captive markets and one at least with a large State subsidy.

The majority can certainly claim to be movers by virtue of the amounts they have managed to move from the public purse into their private bank accounts.

I am less certain about the shakers bit unless it refers to their contributions to shaking the foundations of our economic recovery.

One has to wonder if the absence of more business entrepreneurs in the list creating real wealth for our region is because their rewards are nowhere near those of the names listed, or have they more or less disappeared?

Doing Britain a disservice

From: James Bovington, Church Grove, Horsforth, Leeds.

TOM Richmond urged David Cameron (Yorkshire Post, January 15) to sack the EU's 'foreign Minister', Catherine Ashton, as not being up to the job.

Come on, Tom, surely you know that, unlike a national commissioner like Peter Mandelson was, Baroness Ashton's appointment was agreed by all 27 heads of government and that Dave can't get rid of her without the unanimous backing of the others?

It's hardly surprising that the pro-European side largely lost the argument when faced with disinformation such as that spread by many of your eurosceptic correspondents.

Many wrap themselves in nostalgic patriotic loyalty, but their ignorance of the fundamental structure of the EU actually does our country a great disservice.

Before being critical of Europe, let's get our facts right.

Grim view of the North

From: James Altofts, High Green Road, Normanton.

Having watched the Hepworth Gallery emerge over the past few years, I must say that, as I pass it on my way into Wakefield, I just sigh with disappointment. I have not had chance to visit inside and hope that it lives up to expectations.

The exterior, however, is a ghastly grey blot on the landscape. It would have taken very little to improve a visitor's impression of their entry to Wakefield, but I am afraid the architects have failed on a monumental scale.

Whether you like or dislike Hepworth's work, it cannot be denied that she produced objects of beauty; what a shame Wakefield and Mr Chipperfield could not achieve the same.

Many people still think it is grim up north – this building will do nothing to change their mind.