Ice cream wars

Reading your article anent 
European changes to what may be considered ice cream (16 
December) took me back to the 1980s and the “chocolate wars”.

The UK confectionery industry was under siege because the major producers of chocolate in Belgium, Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy thought that our chocolate was adulterated, and therefore not real chocolate.

In essence, the UK made chocolate with cheaper vegetable oils while Europe used cocoa butter. As we now know, you can buy UK-produced chocolate in these other European countries and “real” chocolate, eg, Belgian, fetches a premium in the market.

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The present ice cream debate has a certain irony, because when we joined the EEC in 1973 most British ice cream did not contain cream – vegetable oils and seaweed derivatives being essential ingredients. They still are.

The distinction between ice cream and dairy ice cream is now standard as a way of informing the consumer that one of these products may not even contain milk.

Stories about the dreaded Eur­opean Commission are often examples of lazy journalism. Before we joined the EEC in 1973 the UK already had legislation about the straightness of cucumbers and definition of grades for different horticultural products. The subsidies given to certain farming communities were much higher than the Common Agricultural Policy ever gave out.

Indeed, it was the EEC that forced the uncompetitive marketing boards to disband. (The Potato Marketing Board even had its own form of intervention to take “spare” potatoes off the market to protect prices.)

EU policies can be short-sighted or just plain wrong, but The Scotsman as a newspaper of record should beware of simply repeating lobbyists’ hand-outs.

By the way, gathering seaweed for ice cream manufacture is still an important Hebridean income generator!

L D M Mackenzie

Buckingham Terrace