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John Burns' Blog

Food allergy; not tested on animals; the NHS; phone hacking; the Met.

Published: Monday, January 24, 2011

Our nutrition team has been hearing from a vet practice treating a dog which is allergic to beef, pork, lamb, duck, chicken, turkey, white fish, potato, rice, corn, barley.

I’m not saying that’s impossible but food allergies usually develop when a dog has been fed on a certain food for a long time. Perhaps this particular dog is 20 years old.  Much more likely that the allergy diagnosis is based on laboratory testing.  Barring recent advances which I haven’t heard about, this is an expensive way of getting the wrong answer.  Tests for food allergy produce lots of false positives and false negatives and the only reliable test is a feeding trial, i.e. try the food and see what happens.

I’m a keen follower of Simon Hoggart’s Saturday column in The Guardian.  At the moment he’s inviting readers to send in examples of silly labelling; e.g. “Allergy Warning - contains eggs” on egg boxes.  This week someone has sent him an example of a super-premium dog food which says “Not Tested on animals.”  That’s bound to be a Burns bag.  Of course it sounds daft and it won’t be on the new bag designs but we know what we mean.

As I wrote last week the government unveiled new plans for the NHS. At the core is the (stated) intention to decentralise control and place GPs in charge of outsourcing provision of  services.  On Friday it was announced that the purchase of vaccines would become centrally controlled because central buying gave economies of scale.  So much for the plan to devolve control.  What wasn’t said was that many susceptible groups have not had  flu vaccination this winter because – wait for it – GPs messed up on ordering sufficient vaccine.  As with the veterinary profession, some doctors are keen to be businesspeople, but the majority prefer to do what they are trained for which is to treat the sick.

In the wake of  the resignation of his press officer, Andy Coulson over the NoW phone hacking affair, I was intrigued by David Cameron’s comments.  He said that Coulson had resigned once (from the NoW); he shouldn’t be punished twice by having to resign again. Does he think that resigning one’s job is sufficient punishment for breaking the law?

What will he say if Coulson lands in the slammer?

The conduct of the Met police doesn’t inspire confidence.  It is announced that Gordon Brown has written to the police to find out if his phone was tapped.   Can you believe it?  The Prime Minister/ Chancellor may have been the victim of illegal actions and the police don’t tell him.

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