On 13/06/14 by Steve Livens (Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain)
When is an ingredient not an ingredient…when it’s a novel food, of course!
Let’s be clear, natural ingredients remain part of the long and distinguished heritage of beer. It is a heritage that reaches back to soaking discs of unleavened bread with water in clay jars to create what was likely to be the earliest form of beer. Today, brewers continue to reserve the right to be an inventive bunch, always coming up with new, wild and crazy combinations of ingredients to lay down the gauntlet of taste and aroma to the unsuspecting consumer!
However the use of ‘natural’ ingredients is becoming something of a grey area and in this way, on behalf of one BBPA member, I recently found myself immersed in the murky world of food ingredients. Principally, regarding what constitutes an ingredient. When is an ingredient no longer an ingredient or worse even a ‘non-food’ and far more terrifyingly than this, when does an ingredient becomes a Novel Food. Or as I like to think of it, the ingredient equivalent of a zombie!
As part of an ongoing, broad interest in producing ‘heritage’ beer styles, brewers have shown a keenness to experiment with the use of ‘heritage’ ingredients. These are ingredients, usually derived from natural plant sources, that have been in wide spread use in the past but are perhaps less well known or used today. A typical example being that of gruit, a mixture of herbs, spices and bittering plants such as bog myrtle (myrica gale) which was in widespread use before the introduction of hops to Britain from the Netherlands around the 14th Century.
However, it seems that what Europe gives with one hand it takes with the other and an issue with the use of heritage ingredients, such as bog myrtle, becomes clear when one considers the Novel Food and Novel Food Ingredients Regulations (EC 258/97). Specifically, the European Commission ‘considers foods and food ingredients that have not been used for human consumption to a significant degree in the EU before 15 May 1997 novel foods and novel food ingredients’.
Under this premise, any such ingredients that have not been officially ‘approved’ for use since 1997 potentially require authorisation before they can legally be used for food production! Such authorisation is required primarily to show that the ingredient in question is safe for use, but also to corroborate any claims that may be associated with its use. Approvals are made on an EU wide basis and helpfully there are no definitive, approved lists!
Thankfully there is a ‘but’, if albeit a somewhat grey one! EC 258/97 is not predominant as a Regulation and in the case of a food ingredient that is used as a flavouring, whether in significant use before 1997 or not, this then becomes subject to the EU flavouring Regulations (EC 1334/2008).
Brewers wishing to use ‘heritage’ ingredients now have two options. Firstly and more definitively, demonstrating that an ingredient has been in significant use (Commission guidance on definition of ‘significant’) prior to 1997 obviates Novel Foods Regulations. An alternative is to satisfy the definition of a flavouring in EC 1334/2008.
Thankfully, using the definitions in EC 1334/2008, most plant based ingredients that are used, like hops, for the purpose of providing either or both flavour and aroma appear likely to fall within the definition of a ‘flavouring preparation’. As such the ingredient in question is not present in the final product or is removed from the process during production and for which the physical processes of either heating or steeping are used to extract the necessary compounds for aroma or flavour. As for all food producers, there remains a requirement for brewers to be sure that any ingredient they use will not endanger public health. However, in many cases, showing use in other foods can be sufficient for this purpose.
Needless to say, as with most regulations that emanate from Brussels, there is ever a healthy mix of confusion and uncertainty. The recent Consumer Food Information Regulation being a case in point! However, in the case of Novel Foods BBPA is also now working with the FSA, who profess to also be suitably confused, to raise a point of clarification with the Commission over where ingredients may fall between Novel Foods and Flavouring Regulations. We hope that this will result in some further clarity and not least to ensure that the spirit of diversity and creativity that underlies the brewing industry is not stifled.
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A new campaign to highlight the devastating consequences of domestic violence to men during this year’s football World Cup tournament was launched yesterday, on 9 June, and activity will run until 14 July 2014.
Violence against women and girls is an abhorrent crime and the Government is committed to ending it. These crimes have a huge impact on our: economy, health services, and the criminal justice system. It is estimated that more than one in four women will be the victim of domestic abuse over the course of their lifetime in England and Wales.
The aim of the campaign is to make men aware of the consequences of domestic violence and abuse. It also highlights that not all abuse is physical and can also include threats and controlling behaviour.
A3 posters started to be displayed in male toilets in venues across England, including pubs and bars from 7 June and will be displayed until 13 July 2014. Washrooms are discrete spaces enabling us to raise awareness of the issue. Alongside the posters, online adverts adapted from the poster, will also run from 12 June to 14 July, across football content on the SKY Sports website and on mobile apps the day after key first round England matches and throughout the competition when men are checking the football match reports and commentary. All campaign activity signposts the Respect Phoneline (0800 802 4020) and website where men can get further help and support.
You can view the poster on the GOV.UK website and partners can request a copy of the campaign brief, which provides further background information on the campaign by emailing VAWGCampaigns@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
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On 02/06/14 by John Wells (UK ES Manager, AB InBev)
World Environment Day – 5th June 2014
Our dream is to be the Best Beer Company in a Better World which means having the best products and the best people. But it also means making a positive contribution to the communities we work in. As the world’s leading global brewer, we are committed to protecting and efficiently managing the natural resources that our business and communities depend on.
On 5th June 2014 we are taking part in the UN Environmental Programme’s World Environment Day (WED) for the 6th year. This annual event raises awareness of our most pressing environmental challenges, prompting positive environmental action globally.
We are taking part in a number of ways across the UK.
On 3rd June twenty intrepid volunteers from our Magor Brewery in Wales are celebrating World Environment Day early by swapping their usual day’s work of brewing beer to rolling up their sleeves to tackle environmental improvement projects across the Monmouthshire foreshore with the help of environmental charity, Keep Wales Tidy.
Through our partnership with Help the Hospices each of our UK sites has been matched with a local hospice and on Wednesday 4th June a top team including our UK president, Inge Plochaet, is heading to Trinity Hospice in London, matched with our Stag Brewery in Richmond. The team will help with the maintenance of their award winning garden which has a vitally important therapeutic effect on patients, giving them peace and serenity.
And finally on World Environment Day itself at our Samlesbury Brewery in Preston we have invited members of Lancashire’s leading environmental organisations to visit, have a tour and a taste, and hear about what we are doing to reduce our impact on the environment and operating in a responsible and resource-efficient way.
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On 22/05/14 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)
I had an opportunity this week to meet informally with Police and Crime Commissioners to discuss our concerns about the bans being imposed locally on high strength beers. The context is the scheme in Ipswich which tackles a problem of street drinkers in a variety of ways, including treatment, enforcement and rehabilitation and has received widespread publicity.
One aspect of their strategy however, which has received probably the most public coverage has been to agree with local retailers a ban on the sale of specific higher-strength beers and ciders which might be drunk by street drinkers.
The concern of the BBPA is that this ban on its own and not as part of a wider strategy, is being implemented in a number of local authorities - in fact we estimate that over 70 are now implementing some form of higher strength restriction. Of these 35 have implemented an active campaign either through voluntary agreements with retailers, or in some cases through the use of licensing conditions, which then of course makes the ban a legal requirement. Some local authorities have moved away from identifying specific products and have instead put in place a ban on the sale of beers and ciders above 5.5% ABV or 6.5% ABV.
BBPA has several concerns about this strategy:
It demonises beer which is British produced (nearly 90% of beer drunk in the UK is produced here) and when beer is actually of much lower strength than many other types of alcohol.
There is no firm evidence that bans on higher strength beer and cider have any direct impact on alcohol related harm – you may be only displacing drinkers to purchase products somewhere else or to alternative and potentially higher strength products.
There are real questions as tothe legality of such bans. The OFT, now the new Competition and Market’s Authority, has previously stated that there is a high risk that voluntary action of this nature could breach competition law and blanket use of licensing conditions to create a generalised scheme goes beyond licensing powers.
The banning of beers over a certain ABV could restrict choice for customers, but also risks removing a large number of popular products from the shelves, including locally brewed ales which are not drunk by street drinkers, for a policy that only targets a very small number of drinkers. This can also mean that national retailers de-list products that are currently consumed responsibility by a vast majority of consumers.
BBPA is fully committed to working in partnership with local authorities and the police to tackle local problems. We have offered to work with all Local Authority Alcohol Areas identified by the Home Office and have already been engaged in Manchester and in touch with Swansea. Schemes like Best Bar None, Pubwatch, Community Alcohol Partnerships and Business Improvement Districts are all partnership schemes which we support.
At the end of the day, local authorities and police have considerable powers to deal with alcohol related crime and disorder, and focus on the enforcement of these alongside investment in treatment and support for problem drinkers. The work of local authorities, combined with local partnership working, can provide more sustainable long term solutions.
I hope that this is the start of a more positive dialogue.
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On 15/05/14 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)
Training, qualifications and professional standards are all key to the reputation and standing of the British beer and pub industry and all were illuminated at the BII Annual Lunch and the SAB Miller Scholars Programme which held its Graduation ceremony this week.
Tim Hulme the CEO of the British Institute of Innkeeping launched the new BII strategy in which he outlined his vision to be led by the needs of the members they serve and the learners who sit their qualifications. Unique in the Licensed Trade sector in having a dedicated Awarding Body, qualifications have been pared down to sit under six main headings and four levels from entry to management.The BII Licensing Hospitality Apprenticeship offers a Level 2 and Level 3 awards. The Pre-entry awareness training (PEAT) has been reviewed and enhanced and is of course compulsory for members of the BBPA and their tenants or lessees. Making sure that new entrants to our industry have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed must be a clear objective for everyone.
I was honoured to be asked again this year to be part of the 12 industry experts interviewing the six finalists of BII Licensee of the Year Award. As ever, six wonderful pubs and six absolutely dedicated licensees. This year four of them operated tied pubs and without doubt the low cost entry into running their own business was a factor in their success. The winner announced at the lunch is Lee Price from the Royal Pier Aberystwyth who clearly understands consumer demand and responsibility. Not only does he run a great pub which is actually a Pier, but for the past two years he has been awarded ‘Best Boss’ in Aberystwyth. Certainly one to visit!
As part of its commitment to the Responsibility Deal, SAB Miller has developed a strategy with three strands: Education; research and partnership. Since 2009 SAB Miller has funded scholarships on courses throughout the UK for 4,000 employees in pubs, bars, restaurants and the off-trade. All take the BIIAB Level 1 Award in Responsible Alcohol Retailing. They have committed to train a further 6,000 people in the next three years at a cost to SAB Miller of £500,000.
Baroness Hayter hosted an event in the House of Lords to recognise a range of retail staff from across the UK who have been awarded the Level 1 Award. She was clear that the collaboration between local authorities, the police and the retailers had to be part of a responsible culture towards alcohol. She was joined by Sally Keeble the former Northampton MP (who is standing again at the next election), and has been helping SAB Miller deliver the scheme.
As we approach the summer with hopefully good weather and a successful World Cup, our credentials as a responsible industry are hugely important. Working with the BII and our members to raise standards of retailing so we all enjoy drinking beer responsibly and visiting pubs is vital and I am proud of all the good work done by members of the BBPA to take a lead in this area.
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On 09/05/14 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)
I was able to drive to the very beautiful village of Monks Kirby in Warwickshire to share with some 500 others and his family the funeral for Bernard Brindley and to celebrate his life.
In his tribute Phil Dixon said right at the beginning; for someone who helped others so much, it is tragic that his life was cut short so early. His Father at 89 was unfortunately not able to be there, but the thoughts of all in the congregation were with him, Bernard’s wife Lorna and his children and grandchild.
We heard that Bernard was half Maltese, his Mother having met his Father during the Second World War. His sometimes steely stance when warranted could be put down to the ‘Maltese Factor!’. He was a committed Roman Catholic and his family came from a requiem mass at his own church to St Edith’s because it was so much larger and could accommodate all those who wanted to be there to pay their respects.
Bernard began life as a chef, but soon moved to working in some of the foremost hostelries in the local area and eventually owned his own pub; the White Lion in Pailton, near Rugby. He was there for over 20 years and according to Phil he ran one of the best and most successful pubs he had ever seen. When asked by Phil on a visit the GP on his spirits, Bernard was able to go through each one and tell him down to three decimal points!
When eventually Bernard and Lorna decided to sell on the lease, Bernard expanded his role of giving something back. Chairman of the Rugby National Licensed Victuallers, he was Regional Chairman of the British Institute of Innkeeping and became its national Chairman in 2012. He was also Chairman of the Pub Governing Body bringing together pub companies and lessee organisations. He was a trustee of the Licensed Trade Charity and was often out visiting those in need.
For me, Bernard a lovely man with whom I enjoyed working. He would call me to discuss an issue, particularly for the PGB. I had huge respect for his experience as a publican and always welcomed his advice. He was kind, honest and always prepared with a thoughtful point of view. He did not enjoy the politics, but was determined to rise above it and play his part to help those who run pubs to make them as successful as possible (not many could be as successful as his!).
As we sung the hymn known by many as ‘How Great Thou Art’; the last verse;
“When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart;
Then shall I bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim; my God how great thou art”.
Bernard was a great stalwart of our industry; he gave so much time to us all. He himself was ‘great’ and as we stood shoulder to shoulder in our respect for him: industry veterans, pub company senior executives and licensees, I only hope that Bernard’s work can continue and that others with his experience will step forward and give as much as he did. He will be very much missed by us all.
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Where's my £1000 discount? That's the question a lot of licensees have found themselves asking recently
On 02/05/14 by David Sheen (Policy Manager - Economy & Environment)
The Autumn Statement last December announced a £1,000 discount for retail businesses with a rateable value of £50,000 or below for the next two financial years. In part this was a response to the struggles of the High Street and also aimed to address the growing sense of unfairness about the business rates system.
It was an extremely welcome move, for which both the Chancellor and the Community Pubs Minister Brandon Lewis deserve great credit. The Treasury is paying for it and Mr. Lewis' department, DCLG, are in charge of business rates.
For licensees it will make a difference. A licensee recently wrote to the Prime Minister about the burden of business rates on his business. The letter was copied to the Publican's Morning Advertiser, who connected the gentleman with the BBPA. The pub's rateable value is £26,000 so the bill would have risen from £12,246 per year to £12,679. As it was the annual bill fell to £11,532, a saving of £714 on the previous year. Or rather it would have done if he had received the discount.
And this is where issues start to arise. Although the discount is funded from central Government it is up to the 300+ billing authorities (councils) to implement the reduction. Having experienced a relatively small number of these bodies, it seems that there are wide variations in the way they are dealing with the discount.
The Royal Oak mentioned above is covered by Harrogate Borough Council. To receive the discount businesses need to complete a form and return it to the Council to receive the discount. It doesn't appear that businesses were made aware of this fact when they received their rates bills for the coming year. If this is the case then it appears likely that many pubs entitled to the discount will not receive it. The Royal Inn was only made aware of this when they contacted the BBPA.
Tunbridge Wells so far stands out as best in class. Pubs have reported that their discount was automatically applied to their bills when they were sent out for the year ahead. This clearly reduces the administrative burden on the pub and helps with cash flow from the start of the year.
Other local authorities, including Ashford, also in Kent, have not applied the discount but have assured businesses they will have had an update by the end of May. The London Borough of Haringey on the other hand has no reference to the relief on its website and little indication of when the discount will apply.
Reasons for delays have been cited as IT and procedural difficulties. It is true that some systems were not set up for this type of discount so that may have caused some delays. And it is also the case that councils need to set up a local scheme to administer the discount. But these measures were introduced nearly five months ago so there should be little excuse for pubs and other retail businesses not receiving what they had been offered. If Tunbridge Wells can get the discounts onto bills by March it seems hard to believe that Haringey Council won't even have received permission from their councillors to do so until June at the earliest!
I would plead with all councils to implement this discount at the earliest possible opportunity. It can make a big difference to a small business. And if any business that believes they have not received the discount that they are eligible for please get in touch.
As an aside, the retail relief on its own isn't enough to alleviate the burden of business rates. More needs to be done. And that is why we are grateful to see Government looking more closely at this, including a consultation on 'checking and challenging' rates and a recent discussion paper on the administration of the whole scheme, including revaluations. This is the highest profile that business rates have had for a very long time.
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On 25/04/14 by Steve Livens (Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain)
I don’t know if you would have noticed it but there was an excellent article published in The Sun at the end of March; ‘Will your loaf leave you brown bread?’ The article itself delivered a fascinating insight into the consumption of wholemeal bread as a cause of dementia, breast cancer, headaches, stroke, diabetes, bloating, kidney cancer and loss in libido!
This article quickly followed from another triumph in the delivery of factual, nutritional information, published about a month earlier, which threw the spotlight on the hidden sugars in alcoholic beverages and in particular the alleged nine-and-a-half teaspoons, nearly 40 grams, of sugar that can be found in a pint of bitter. Imagine!
‘Educating’ consumers about the dietary risks associated with everyday, common foods it seems is the current game of choice, not that this is a new game, of course. However the irresponsible and inaccurate communication of nutritional ‘dangers’ is damaging and ultimately does nothing to educate consumers or make them aware of where there may indeed be some benefit from exercising moderation when it comes to dietary choice.
Perhaps more concerning is the degree of confusion and misunderstanding that such headline-grabbing approaches inspire, further preventing people from understanding complex issues and making informed and sensible decisions about their diet or lifestyle.
Such a position formed a central concern by members of the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research (ISFAR) earlier this year as part of a critique of the World Health Organisations ‘World Cancer Report 2014’. Members of the scientific forum called for ‘a balanced message on alcohol and health’ and found that ‘the WHO seriously undermines its credibility by publishing a report that seems to deliberately ignore overwhelming scientific evidence showing that light-to-moderate consumption of alcohol not only reduces overall mortality but is usually not associated with an increased risk of cancer.’
Despite the obvious need for more objective and informative education around public health issues, media campaigns continue to present unbalanced information with a focus on the shock factor or which simply fail to identify the serious risks associated with alcohol abuse and heavy consumption. Such approaches also commonly focus on increased risk but often fail to realise the context within which it is important to view such risk. Another statement by ISFAR shows that 'Of all lifestyle factors related to cancer, alcohol is a modest attributable risk at 4-6%, while the attributable risk for cigarette smoking is approximately 30% and that for diet and sedentary lifestyles is 20-50%’
Claims that there is clear, scientific consensus around the globe of the risks associated with increasing alcohol intake and cancer formation are simply not true. Whilst undoubtedly the public health community will continue to argue that this is so, there is an undeniable lack of agreement since the confounding factors associated with possible cause are too great and actual causative mechanisms are simply not fully understood.
By example, a paper by Klatsky et al. published this month in the journal ‘Cancer Causes and Control’ reports that underreporting of heavy alcohol consumption is skewing data that would imply an increased cancer risk from moderate alcohol consumption. Indeed, much of what is understood about the relationship between alcohol consumption and cancer risk is only associated with heavy, immoderate consumption.
However, what cannot be ignored is the growing scientific consensus that regular, moderate alcohol consumption actually confers an overall net benefit in terms of reduced mortality risk. Here, there is clear evidence that those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol on a regular basis, stand to live longer than those who either drink nothing at all or those who drink excessively.
Clearly, the importance of conveying clear and accurate information about the true nature of alcohol is vital to help the public make informed and sensible decisions about consumption.
Watching the BBC news this week, I can’t help but wonder whether the inferred consequence of higher prices associated with alcohol as a factor of the declining incidences of violent crime in the UK are the whole story. The brewing industry has certainly made concerted efforts and significant investment to be responsible in their approach to alcohol marketing and through their support for educational programs around the world which aim to teach young people about the risks of alcohol abuse.
When all is said and done, the most valuable lessons that I have learnt about alcohol and the importance of moderation were taught to me by a head brewer and not the media or the health sector.
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On 11/04/14 by Andy Tighe (Policy Director)
A number of recent reports, conferences and proposals have questioned whether in a desire to ‘do more’ and ‘go further’ to foster the culture of responsible drinking in the UK that we all aspire to, we are moving well beyond what is rational, evidence-based policies. This ultimately risks being counter-productive and damaging.
The rush of local authorities and police forces to promote schemes ‘banning’ stronger beers and ciders following the apparent success of the “reduce the strength” campaign in Ipswich is a worrying example of this. Putting aside concerns around competition and licensing law issues, the logic appears flawed in many cases. In Ipswich, following a number of deaths among street drinkers, seventy-five individuals were identified with an ambition to try and accelerate getting these individuals into treatment programmes and provide the necessary support to help them with their alcohol addiction.
This was called the Start Afresh programme with a thirty-six point action plan. Removing from shelves the products favoured by street drinkers was one such action and seen as a way to help facilitate engagement by either these individuals switching to drinking lower-alcohol products (and so be more coherent when approached by support workers) or realise that rather than trek to somewhere that did still stock these drinks this could be the trigger to seek treatment for their addiction.
Out of all the thirty-six measures put in place, this was the one measure that appears to make the least sense yet has caught on as the ultimate panacea. There are many other products of equal strength (e.g. British wines) or much greater strength (table wines and spirits) that can still be purchased with no problem. Despite the fact that street drinkers may prefer cans of strong lagers and PET bottles of strong cider for convenience and price – to think that these products somehow cause a different effect than the same quantity of alcohol (or indeed a greater concentration of alcohol) in other drinks, or indeed that someone with a serious addiction will simply not just buy a bottle of cheap wine or sherry or a small bottle of vodka, is very difficult to believe. If one were being cynical you might think the attraction of this one measure is that it appears to be a cost-free.
Perhaps equally concerning is a proposal to somehow enshrine in law a restriction on the maximum amount of alcohol in a particular package format...four alcohol units in a can and fifteen units in a PET bottle...on what evidence and where does this end? If, as is suggested, this is to help people drink within recommended daily limits then where does fifteen come from or, if this is also primarily aimed at street drinkers, are they really going to stop at one (now slightly cheaper) can to stay within the Government guidelines or consume their bottle of cider over three to four days?
For brand owners and retailers to take action to help reduce the harmful use of alcohol is hugely important and should be strongly encouraged. If this involves reducing the strength of certain products, looking carefully at product portfolios and their appeal and even packaging then this is great and as it should be. Providing a greater choice of lower-alcohol products and encouraging the production and consumption of such products can also only help and can make a significant difference.
But seeking to ban certain beers/ciders or mandate the total units for certain package types...is this really where the focus should be?
Next it will be perfectly acceptable to misrepresent science and scare people in to thinking that having a beer whilst cooking dinner is likely to result in a cancer tumour..but that’s a blog for another day.
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