# Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Weightwatchers have recently signed a deal which will see them promoting McDonalds meals. Under the deal a range of healthy meals will include the Weightwatchers logo. Meals that are included in the range are Chicken McNuggets, the Filet-O-Fish and the Sweet Chilli Seared Chicken wrap. The deal is part of an attempt to cultivate a healthier image for McDonald’s and show that they do have a number of healthy meals available.

posted on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 9:18:19 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

According to this article the major food retailers have all agreed to cut the carbon footprint of their grocery packaging by 10% over the next two years. Some of the measures they will put into place include selling milk in plastic bags, meat in vacuum packed plastic bags and spirits in plastic bottles. Under the agreement retailers will also provide facilities to recycle wrappings and plastic bags. Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer have all signed up for the agreement which could save consumers £800 million over three years because of the reduction in the amount of food thrown away. It should also save the industry £200 million and cut gas emissions by three million tonnes over the next three years.

posted on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 9:16:37 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

The European Commission has cleared the way for a genetically modified potato to be grown in the EU for the first time. The potato will be only the second GM product to be allowed. The Amflora potato can be used for industrial uses such as making paper and for animal feed but not for human consumption and has been specially developed for the special qualities of its starch. The starch can make yarn stronger, paper glossier and keep glue liquid for longer. Although environmental groups are strongly opposed to the introduction of GM crops the Commission has insisted the decision is based upon sound science. Although it has been approved individual countries still have the right to decide whether it should be grown on their territory. It is expected to be planted in the Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands but it needs to be grown under strict conditions to stop it cross pollinating with non GM crops. For example being cultivated and harvested before it produces seeds.

posted on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 9:09:35 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Three cases of Legionnaire’s disease in Scotland have been directly linked to compost. The cases of the disease which occurred between 2008 and 2009 have been linked to water droplets in packs of potting compost. They are the first cases to be linked to gardening within the UK but have led health experts to call for health warnings on packs of potting compost. The disease has previously been linked to gardening and potting mixes in Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States. Legionnaires disease is normally linked with contaminated water and air conditioning systems.

posted on Tuesday, March 09, 2010 10:31:22 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

This is interesting its a scheme from the Co-op to try and rebuild honeybee numbers. Under the scheme people would be encouraged to keep bees in an urban environment. It would take advantage of areas such as allotments and roofs of buildings which can support bee populations. The Co-op aims to encourage 300 new people to urban beekeeping in Manchester, London and Inverness and will provide free training and equipment to those who are interested. In a trial of the scheme last year 60 people out of an initial 100 went on to become beekeepers. Honeybee numbers have more than halved in Britain in the period between 1985 and 2005 due to a number of reasons such as pesticide use, warmer winters and infections such as varroa mites. With their pollination of fruit trees and other crops being worth £165 million every year lets hops the scheme is successful. I would certainly be interested but am not sure my garden is quite big enough for a bee hive.

posted on Tuesday, March 09, 2010 10:29:57 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

According to this article the AA is to launch a new service to help people within the home. The AA will answer calls from householders who have problems with issues such as leaking pipes and broken down boilers or even those who need help putting up a fence or hanging a picture. Householders will use the same call centres which are currently used to dispatch the AA’s breakdown service. People will be given a time of arrival and a reference number and repair men will use an AA van but without the flashing lights. AA members will get a discount on the new service which will also be offered to new customers. The service is split into two parts. The AA Home Emergency Response which is an insurance policy against domestic problems and will tackle burst pipes and leaks. The AA Home Assist will tackle smaller jobs such as putting up curtain rails, mending fences and picture hanging. The service will have a stand alone network of patrolman and vans, separate from the existing fleet of roadside patrol vans. Typical prices for the Home Emergency Response are expected to be £9.95 per month for AA members and £11.95 for non-members.

posted on Tuesday, March 09, 2010 10:25:41 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, March 08, 2010

A recent Which? report has found that vegetable plugs produce poor value for money. The report found that a carrot plug plant that costs £1.09 each and produces one carrot is poor value when compared to a pack of seeds which would work out to just 10p. One company Gardening Direct has since withdrawn it’s carrot and beetroot plug plants facing the criticism. Keen gardeners have been advised to choose seeds instead and only to buy plug plants if they are priced fairly.

posted on Monday, March 08, 2010 10:20:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Police investigating the vandalism of a 200 year old statue were surprised to find it was carried out by squirrels. Staff at Darlington Hall in Devon had noticed serrated marks on the statue as though someone had tried to hack it was a saw. Shortly afterwards a bald squirrel was found suffering from lead poisoning. It was later found that squirrels were looking for food and had decided to nibble on the lead covering the statue causing the damage with their teeth. It is not known why the squirrels chose to eat the statue but it is thought is could be down to a shortage of nuts.

posted on Monday, March 08, 2010 10:18:18 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

From January 2011 drivers will be able to claim up to £5,000 to buy an ultra low carbon car. The grant will be available to both private and business fleet buyers and provides 25% towards the cost of a new car capped at  £5,000. To be eligible for the scheme cars will have to pass performance criteria to ensure safety, range and ultra low tailpipe emissions.

posted on Monday, March 08, 2010 10:12:59 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Sunday, March 07, 2010

BabySong_1587893c A 14 month old boy has baffled doctors by developing fish scales. it is thought the boy suffers from a rare genetic condition which means his body is unable to cool itself. He began developing the scales within a couple of days of his birth. As he is unable to sweat or lose heat through his skin, instead it peals away in scales. Unfortunately there is no known cure for the condition.

posted on Sunday, March 07, 2010 9:49:56 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

A planned cow farm has met with a great deal of opposition from campaigners. The farm would see 8,100 cows being kept in what animal rights groups say are battery conditions. The farm would be Britain’s largest dairy and would bring together a consortium of dairy farmers from Lancashire, Devon and Lincolnshire. They say the farm would be a flagship for the industry and that it would set new standards in animal welfare. Cows would be bedded on sand which would be continuously cleaned and recycled. They would be kept indoors when producing milk and put out to pasture when dry. The project would generate 80 jobs and produce close to half a million pints every 24 hours. Animal rights groups have condemned it as a "an environmental disaster, condemning animals to dark sheds for most of their lives". It has also been criticised because it would produce as much carbon emissions as 3,000 homes.

posted on Sunday, March 07, 2010 9:48:49 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Ecologists have identified brown bears, wolves, lynx and elk as species that could potentially be reintroduced into the British countryside. A report compiled for Britain’s largest national park has indentified 23 species in total that once lived in Britain and could survive here again. Campaigners have been pushing for lynx and wolves to be reintroduced to Britain for some time. They believe that they could help to control deer numbers and protect woodland that can often be destroyed by large herds. Ecologists also believe that introducing large carnivores can be beneficial for tourism. The proposals have not been popular with landowners and farmers, however who believe the animals could pose a threat to people. It’s easy to see both sides here, on one hand it make sense to have larger predators to manage deer populations but on the other if not carefully managed then there is likely to be a significant impact on farmers and their livestock.

posted on Sunday, March 07, 2010 9:45:45 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# 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