Thursday, 4 March 2010

Here come the chip police

The latest front to be opened up in the “war against obesity” is a campaign by the Food Standards Agency to encourage fish and chip shops to serve thicker chips, which absorb less fat and are thus supposedly healthier.
The FSA scheme will cover Cambridgeshire, Greater Manchester and Northern Ireland by the end of this month. Officials will visit 80 chip shops to examine how much fat is in their chips and offer advice.

If the pilot scheme is successful it will be rolled out across the country and last two years. Other small caterers including Indian and Chinese takeaways will be included.
It is naïve, though, to believe that this change can be sneaked in without anyone noticing it. As always, the possibility of unintended consequences is ignored. If the chips are no longer to their liking, people are likely to forsake fish and chips in favour of other fast food options which may contain even more calories and fat.

I’ve said on here before that I prefer my chips to be slim, crisp and thoroughly cooked – Burger King on a good day is my ideal. I already actively avoid chips in pubs because all too often they are flabby, half-cooked abominations. Now, if people actually prefer big fat soggy chips, then fair enough, but it is one thing to offer them the choice of the “healthier” option, something else entirely to give them no alternative.

In future, I can only see the scope of such arm-twisting initiatives widening. I continue to believe that within the next five years were will see brewers being “encouraged” to “voluntarily” reduce the strength of popular beer brands in a bid to cut alcohol related health problems – something that to a limited extent has already been happening, in particular with Stella giving up its 0.2% ABV strength advantage over most of its direct competitors.


  1. I just wish we could have a moratorium on the scare stories. It's never ending. I eat chips, drink beer, and everything that they'd like to exclude.

    My point is. I'm 60 years old, slim, fit, smoked all my life and had three days off with ill health in 44 years of work.

    Please make them stop!

  2. Filthy Engineer, just avoid the news. If you don't read, listen or watch then the nonsense just doesn't exist.

    "Burger King on a good day is my ideal" - mine too. The fatter the chip, the crapper the taste.

  3. I suspect if you can avoid the news you will live a happier life. 95% of scare stories are either grossly exaggerated or total bollocks. But the problem is that 5% of them aren't, and if you ignore the news they suddenly rise up and bite you on the bum.

    WTF??!! I can't smoke in here any more??!!

  4. Coffee next; full of the terrible stimulant caffeine which must cost the NHS several billion a year (made-up figure offered free to the Government to aid them in developing ill-informed, repressive policy).

  5. @NAM

    Like second hand smoke, despite the scientific evidence like this:

    "Drinking coffee 'protects the heart.' A strong cup of coffee really could be a lifesaver, claim scientists, after they found that caffeine may protect the heart.

    Researchers have discovered that regular coffee drinkers are less likely to be admitted to hospital with irregular heart beats or rhythms.

    And the more cups they drink a day, the less likely they are to suffer from the condition."

  6. Personally I like thicker chips but they have to be cooked properly in very hot oil. Alot of places cook them in oil which is not at the right temperature and instead of sealing the outside of the chip it soaks into it. Burger king have been guilty of this on the odd time with limp greasy fries as well. It is a sign of a cook that doesn't know what he/she is doing or just a badly run kitchen.

    I would rather the government spend money on better things than this.

  7. Chips should be fried in lard. You can't have too much lard...

  8. I love deep frying my spuds in goose fat. Then adding lots of salt. Followed by about 6 beers and a couple of whiskies. And my meat stone cold rare.

    That'll send the little bastards into a thrashing of wailing and apoplexy.

  9. What do they actually think they are achieving with any of this? Even if they manage to get people eating the perfect diet and drinking the perfect, healthy amount of alcohol, etc. people will still get sick and die. They may live a little longer first, so when they get sick they may be a little older and the conditions they suffer from may be different, but they will still cost money to take care of and in the end they will die.

    Everyone has to die of something and when you compile the causes into statistics there will always be a "biggest killer", but it is faulty logic to think that reducing instances of that cause of death saves lives. Those people will still die, but their death will be in a different column, maybe two or three years later. It looks like a victory against your chosen "biggest killer" but society hasn't really benefited.

  10. They are achieving exactly what they want:

    Creating an artificial market in order to enable them to perpetuate continual funding from our money.

  11. Burger King chips? nasty frozen par boiled abominations. Proper chippy chips are the best chips! With lots of malt vinegar!

  12. Burger King Fries? Proof positive of the effect of passive smoking...

  13. What we need is a good war, one that requires the Government (preferably one of National Unity that doesn't need to bother with distractions like elections) to bring back rationing.

    Then we'll all be much healthier.

  14. It so happens that I prefer my chips thick cut, and slightly soggy. And also fried in dripping, so will you vile and despicable filth of the FSA please do the world a favour and kill yourselves? Preferably by suicide-bombing your place of employment.

  15. The last time I was in Sainsbury's I noticed ads recommending we (a) cut the fat off our steaks to make them "healthier" and (b) cook our baked potatoes in gose fat to make them tastier. Mr Lefthand doesn't appear to be on the same mailing list as Mr Righthand …


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