# Saturday, March 06, 2010

Food watchdogs are calling for CCTV to be installed in slaughterhouses to help improve animal welfare standards. Tim Smith of the Food Standards Agency is developing a plan for the industry within the next six months. It will recommend that cameras are installed to help ensure that the highest health, hygiene and animal welfare standards are followed. The calls come after a recent European Union veterinary inspection exposed poor hygiene at UK abattoirs and meat cutting plants. Animal Aid a welfare campaign group have also filmed cruelty to pigs and sheep at an organic certified abattoir in Devon. As a result of these findings  every aspect of welfare and risk is now being reviewed across the country’s 400 abattoirs to ensure more traceability in the meat industry. Although the agency would not be able to force meat companies to install surveillance cameras they hope to come to some voluntary agreement. The RSPCA on the other hand is backing compulsory cameras in all meat plants and hopes to make it a requirement for meat produced under its Freedom Food label.

posted on Saturday, March 06, 2010 10:35:05 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

I remember reading a similar article about a year ago when the lettuce was the nations most wasted food. It seems now that the title goes to the banana. According to this article fruit, salad and vegetables are the most wasted items from peoples shopping baskets. The banana comes top of the list for the most wasted item, followed closely by fresh milk. Apparently the worst culprits for wasting food are single men aged between 25 and 35 who waste an average of £17.43 of food a month. In contrast a family of four waste £15.70 of food a month and people aged over 57 are the least wasteful, throwing away just £3.36 a month. The results came after a countrywide survey which looked at food waste across the country. Based on this I wonder how much food I waste a month. I would guess its very little as most of my kitchen scraps are made into cat food or put out for the birds, still, it might be worth monitoring the waste that goes out.

posted on Saturday, March 06, 2010 10:30:32 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, March 05, 2010

According to this article the number of bugs in Britain’s soil has increased by 50% in the last ten years. In the first study of its kind scientists have analysed the soil. They took more than 2,600 samples from different geological and climatic areas across the country and measured them for invertebrates, nutrients, pollutants, acidity and carbon. They found that in the top 8cm of soil, there are 12.8 quadrillion living organisms. Whilst the number of invertebrates has gone up by nearly 50% it appears that the diversity of life (the number of types) has decreased. Scientists say that both of these things are caused by the rise of annual temperatures and rainfall, the warmer and wetter summers that we have been experiencing.

posted on Friday, March 05, 2010 9:10:50 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

According to this article the government is considering introducing a competency test for dog owners. The proposal could mean that people will be forced to have their dogs microchipped and also take out third party insurance in case they bite anyone. The measures would be put in place mainly as a way of combating problems with dangerous dogs but could potentially cover all dogs. It might also be necessary for dog owners to take a competency test to ensure they have the relevant skills necessary to properly look after their dog. Critics have pointed out that the cost of establishing such a scheme would mean many irresponsible dog owners are likely to ignore it. It is thought that the cost would have to be met by either charging for the test or introducing a dog license fee, something which is likely to be seen to penalise those responsible dog owners and not tackle the problem.

posted on Friday, March 05, 2010 9:08:34 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

According to this article the Ministry of Defence has decided to destroy future reports of UFOs rather than make them public. The British UFO investigation unit was closed at the start of December because an increase in incidents has diverted staff from more important defence matters. The closure will mean that any reports of UFOs will now only be kept for 30 days making them exempt from freedom of information laws and meaning that they can be destroyed. It seems a shame that these reports will lost, they usually make very interesting reading whatever your view on UFOs may be.

posted on Friday, March 05, 2010 9:06:11 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, March 04, 2010

nuclear_bunker If you have a bit of spare cash and want to purchase something a bit unusual, then you might be interested in this nuclear bunker. Currently on sale on ebay the bunker is based in the Peak District and comes with a plot of land. It has panoramic views over the Derbyshire Dales and includes much of the original equipment. If you are interested the current bid is £24,100.25.

posted on Thursday, March 04, 2010 10:18:31 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

article-0-087ACF30000005DC-77_468x470 A man from Norfolk has found a dinosaur bone in his garden. He has had the bone in his rockery for many years thinking it was simply an unusual shaped rock. It was only when he sent it to the local museum to be identified that he found it was in fact a 135 million year old dinosaur fossil. The bone is from a Plesiosaur a large marine reptile which fed mainly on fish. Mr Ruggles has now decided to donate the bone to the local Lynn Museum where it will go display as part of their permanent collection.

posted on Thursday, March 04, 2010 10:13:13 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Some lucky chickens in Norwich are having jumpers made especially for them. The chickens are former battery hens that have been brought by a rescue centre rather than being slaughtered. They now live at the Little Hen Rescue in Norwich whilst they are awaiting new homes. Unfortunately many of the hens are rather bald as a result of the intensive battery environment they have previously lived in, hence why they need jumpers. The jumpers are being kindly provided by a Somerset craft club who have been busy knitting to help keep the chickens warm. The Little Hen Rescue currently takes in around 4,000 hens at a time and cares for them until they are fit enough to find a new home. Around 10% of birds have lost their feathers so it seems there is a quite a demand for chicken jumpers.

posted on Thursday, March 04, 2010 10:10:57 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, March 03, 2010

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A hen in Suffolk has laid an unusually large egg. The egg which has a circumference of 21cm (8.3 inches) was laid by a hen called Matilda who has only ever laid four eggs before. Despite the size of the egg it is not large enough to make it into the record books. The largest ever hens egg was a five-yolked egg measuring 31cm (12.2in) around by  22.8cm (9in) and weighing nearly 340g (12oz). It was laid by a Black Minorca hen in Lancashire in 1896.

posted on Wednesday, March 03, 2010 8:57:35 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

At a time when people are becoming conscious of where their food comes from supermarkets have been accused of putting misleading labels on sausages and bacon. The labels strongly suggest the animals have been raised in the British countryside when in fact they have been raised in cruel conditions outside the UK. Currently it is possible to label a product as “made in Britain” when the product may have simply been processed and packaged in the UK. In cases like this products labelled as Lincolnshire sausages might in fact be made from German pork. One problem with this is that welfare standards for animals outside the UK are often considerably lower. Other people may want to buy British simply to support the country in a time of recession. In what has been hailed a victory for clearer labelling a new code of practice will mean  only pork made from pigs that are born, bred and slaughtered in the UK can be labelled as British. However, manufacturers are still able to opt out of the agreement and campaigners are calling for the measures to be made compulsory.

posted on Wednesday, March 03, 2010 8:53:29 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, March 02, 2010

I watched the Panorama programme about the impact of the palm oil industry on the environment with interest. I have long been aware that unsustainable palm oil impacts hugely on the environment and particularly on the habitat of the orangutan population. What I was now, made aware of, however, was the number of products that might contain palm oil without my knowledge. I prefer to source most of cosmetics from Lush because most of their products do not contain palm oil but the Panorama documentary made me aware that many food products might contain palm oil disguised as vegetable oil.

The problem with palm oil is that it causes a massive amount of deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. The impact forces not only the indigenous people from their homes but also the ever vulnerable and fast depleted orangutan population. What the documentary highlighted was that many areas that are protected forest are being illegally logged and turned over to palm oil production. It seems, that because the business is so lucrative, the respective local governments turn a blind eye to this breech of the law.

Figures show that the orangutan population has declined by 50% in the last decade and around 50,000 orangutans have died as a result of de-forestation. At this rate there seems little hope for the remaining population. Currently only 3% of the world’s palm oil is certified as sustainable meaning it comes from a plantation that passes an environmental impact test. Most of the big manufacturers who use palm oil also have no way of tracing where it comes from because it is mixed with other oil so they are unable to trace the origin.

Whilst this might be the case what in my mind is inexcusable is the mislabelling of products. Manufacturers are allowed to list palm oil simply as “vegetable oil” without stating the actual content. Although their excuse that recipes can change and the oil can very from week is certainly plausible, surely they can label a product as “may contain palm oil” in the same way they would with a product such as nuts. That way as a consumer I can make an informed judgement as to whether to buy the product or not. Surprisingly the only supermarket which states whether a product contains palm oil and whether it is from a sustainable source is Sainsbury’s. Based on this I think I will make a conscious choice to switch to their own brand products. I wonder whether any others will follow suit.

posted on Tuesday, March 02, 2010 10:15:56 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, March 01, 2010

According to this article just one in six people will take advantage of the ISA allowance. From April people will be able to put more into their ISA’s. The allowance has also changed this year going up from £7,200 to £10,200 from the 5th of April. However, only 15% are likely to take advantage of this and 25% do not know that the limits have changed. It seems many people are put off using ISA’s because of the current poor rates on savings, however, it makes sense to put your savings somewhere you are not paying tax on them. I will certainly be taking full advantage of the £5,100 tax free cash allowance I can put in my ISA.

posted on Monday, March 01, 2010 10:37:51 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

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This is Khagendra Thapa Magar who at 17 years old could be the world’s shortest man. He is just 22 inches tall, just a little shorter than the shortest man ever recorded who was 22.4 inches tall. He is currently filing a claim with Guinness World Records to verify whether he does indeed qualify for the title.

posted on Monday, March 01, 2010 10:28:07 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Sunday, February 28, 2010

I came across this article the other day which shows how to make your own butter. It’s not something I have ever tried but looking at the instructions it doesn’t look that hard. So that I can find it again I am posting a link to it here.

The recipe which makes 1kg of butter and 1 litre of buttermilk starts off with 2.4 litres of double cream and 2 teaspoons of dairy salt which it says are optional. The cream is then whisked in a food mixer until thick and then even more until it separates into buttermilk and butterfat globules. The mixture is then turned into a sieve to separate the buttermilk and the butter whisked further to expel any remains of buttermilk. The sieving process is repeated. The butter is then kneaded with butter bats (wooden paddles) to remove any traces of buttermilk before being drained and washed several times. It can then be chilled or frozen.

It all sounds very easy and I will be trying it so watch this space for the results.

posted on Sunday, February 28, 2010 8:42:06 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has called on the government to scrap its plans to raise beer taxes. The tax is due to increase 2% above inflation in the next Budget in March and has risen 20% since 2008. The BBPA says taxing beer at a lower rate could save as many as 7,500 jobs at a time when many in the pub industry are struggling. Figures from Camra (Campaign for Real Ale) show that 40 pubs a week are currently closing and at the height of the recession this was as many as 52 a week. Personally I can’t see the government bowing to pressure when it has such a huge hole in public spending but I feel they should recognise the importance of the local pub in the community and do more to help the struggling publican.

posted on Sunday, February 28, 2010 8:39:25 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Saturday, February 27, 2010

If you have ever been in a dark bathroom at night struggling to find the toilet roll then this glow in the dark toilet roll might be just what you need. It looks like regular toilet roll but gives off a florescent glow when the lights are turned off. It costs £4.99 for a roll so is not cheap but could be useful if you are planning a camping trip or simply going somewhere really dark.

posted on Saturday, February 27, 2010 12:24:47 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

When it comes to endangered animals many get a much higher profile than the Great White Shark. It seems, though that it is now more endangered than the tiger with only 3,500 left. The findings have led to marine biologists to call for urgent action to stop them going extinct. The population estimates come after a scientists studied and tagged the migration of the sharks using radio transmitters. What was surprising is that great whites travel much longer distances that previously thought, anything up to 12,000 miles in a nine month period. The researchers found that sharks seen in Hawaii were the same ones that were found in California just six months later leading experts to the conclusion there are far fewer sharks left in the sea. Whilst great whites have a bad reputation for attacking people most incidents are thought to be due to the shark mistaking people for seals. With so few left and the fact that most people have little love for sharks, it seems they might not be around for much longer.

posted on Saturday, February 27, 2010 12:23:10 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Cat food is being used in Australia to stop the spread of invasive cane toads. It has been found that cat food attracts meat ants towards it. Meat ants in turn have quite an appetite for baby cane toads. Leaving cat food near the waters edge when the baby toads are emerging puts the ants right where they are needed. The idea is the latest attempt to try and control the cane toads which were introduced from Hawaii in 1935 in an attempt to control beetles on sugarcane plantations. Since then cane toads have become a destructive influence on the local wildlife population. Other methods of controlling them have included hitting the toads with golf clubs and freezing them. However, with tens of thousands of toads emerging from the water at any one time these methods have not proved effective. Meat ants, are well equipped to deal with the glut of extra food and it has been found that when ponds are lined with cat food, 98% of toads are attacked within two minutes. Of those that escape 80% die of their injuries within a day.

posted on Saturday, February 27, 2010 12:20:51 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback