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EU pledges €32m to save the bees

14 Sep
Bee

A sting in the tail

The EU announced today that it is to increase the amount of money it is spending to subsidise the beekeeping sector.

Over the next three years the EU is to inject €32m (about £26m) per year into national programmes to try to reverse the alarming decline in bee numbers.

There are beehives in every European country, including 274,000 in the UK. Spain has the most, with nearly 2.5 million.

A good piece of buzz-ness!

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One tractor, 50 regulations

23 Jul
Tractor

Ploughing on

When you see a tractor trundling across a field, you’re witnessing a vehicle that is subject to 50 European directives.

That revelation was made by the European Commission today as part of an announcement that it was time to simplify things just a little bit.

Officials want to make tractors safer – many of them would need to be fitted with anti-lock braking systems for instance – and also cut red tape.

They are planning to replace the 50 directives with five new EU regulations.

A good start. What next?

EU: No more mad cows

19 Jul

Mad cow

Bidding farewell to BSE

It seems such a long time ago that Mad Cow Disease first hit the headlines and British beef was demonised across the world.

Now, the EU is considering relaxing the rules it put in place to stop the spread of BSE all those years ago.

In fact the European Commission says the EU is “on the brink of eradicating the disease” in its territory thanks to its measures. I’m not quite sure EU officials can quite lay sole claim to that but then humility is never their strong point, is it.

A ban on meat and bone meal in feed for pigs, poultry and fish – which was imposed to prevent contamination to other animals – is to be lifted.

So it seems that, thankfully, the era of Mad Cow Disease, which started in the UK more than two decades ago and spread across Europe, illustrated by film of cattle thrashing about crazily, is finally coming to an end.

Johnny says: “A good moove.”

BREAKING NEWS: EU says Cornish pasties can’t contain carrots!

14 Jul
Cornish pasty

D-shaped with pastry edges crimped, since you ask

Big news today in the field of tasty English snacks.

The EU has been asked to protect the status of that delicious potato-and-meat-stuffed pastry, the Cornish pasty.

In future, if the EU agrees, it will have to be made in Cornwall if it is to be called a Cornish pasty.

But, as with all Euro-rules, it means the exact definition of a Cornish pasty needs to be published and that happened today. The snack will also have to conform to certain requirements.

According to this morning’s European Commission document, a Cornish pasty will officially (among other things):

  • Be D-shaped with pastry edges crimped either by hand or mechanically to one side, and never on top
  • Be filled with beef, vegetables and seasonings
  • Have pastry that is either shortcrust, rough puff or puff
  • Have filling which must consist of sliced or diced potato, swede, onion (vegetable content of the pasty must not be less than 25 %), diced or minced beef (meat content of the pasty must not be less than 12.5 %)
  • Here’s the big one – Contain no other types of meat, vegetables, e.g. carrot
  • Filled within Cornwall but then the baking can be done anywhere

Interestingly enough, the document also tells us that “traditionally, in Cornwall ‘swede’ is referred to as ‘turnip’ so the two terms are interchangeable, but the actual ingredient is ‘swede’.”

And, to help those European officials, a little bit of history of the Cornish pasty is provided to support its case:

The shape was designed to made it easy to carry (usually in a pocket) and enabled men working in tin mines to reheat them underground, as well as eat them safely. The crust (crimped edge) was used as a handle which was then discarded due to the high levels of arsenic in many of the tin mines.

Objectors now have six months to send their responses before the EU must officially decide whether to recognise the Cornish Pasty.

Tasty.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. No, make that TWO!

7 Jul
Apple

A core EU policy

Granny was wrong apparently.

That old saying that an apple a day keeps the doctor away has been revised by the EU.

They’re now saying we have to eat two apples a day.

A project funded by the EU to the tune of €13.8m (about £11.4m) discovered that two apples can help reduce cholesterol by 10%.

Its organisers also helpfully tell us that dipping apples and peaches in hot water at precise temperatures can reduce brown rot by 80% and remove e-coli and salmonella bacteria.

These findings make up one of eight research projects on food quality which are to be presented at the European Parliament tomorrow.

Johnny says: “I’m just off to dip my peach.”

You’d butter believe it

21 May

Europe’s butter mountain could soon be melting away.

This lunchtime, the European Commission announced that it was to put out to tender the contract to sell the mounds of butter its been stockpiling.

There was a crisis in the dairy market last year and EU officials spent €600m (about £550m) buying up 76,000 tonnes of butter and 257,000 tonnes of skimmed milk powder from Europe’s impoverished farmers. Dairy prices had become so low they were struggling to make ends meet.

But now, apparently, the market is picking up again and prices are rising.

When critics accuse the EU of manipulating the market, this is what they mean.

But dairy farmers will be thankful.

Oh my cod!

18 May
Cod and chips

Cods-wallop

The European Commission has been forced to admit a mistake that left  fishermen in Scotland out of pocket.

Today the Commission came clean about an error in figures used to calculate the amount of fish fishermen are allowed to catch – and then sell.

It was a simple mistake to make but incredibly serious. The Commission mixed up figures in a table it produced between a column for the waters around the west of Scotland with a column dealing with the North Sea.

The trouble was, officials were using the table to work out how many days Scottish fishermen were allowed to take to the seas.

The mistake led to a 10 % reduction in the days they were told they could legally fish in 2007.

It has taken three years for the European Commission to admit this mistake, refused to do so at first, and only does so now following the intervention of the European Ombudsman.

A very fishy tale indeed.

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