Health: Neurotic? Ha! Your problems have only just begun

IT HAS been a good week for health scares - four by my reckoning. Hope you're all feeling a lot better. Mere survival these days is coming to be an achievment in itself.

First up was ESBO, a nasty acronym leaking into baby food. Scientists from the Ministry of Agriculture found half of 137 samples of baby food contained levels of a sealant called Epoxidised Soya Bean Oil high enough to raise concern that greedy babies who ate only the most contaminated brands might be doing themselves damage. We can never eliminate risks, only exchange them. The oil stops bacteria getting in to contaminate the food - and now the jars are contaminated with the oil instead.

Next, we had fears over pesticides on lettuce. On this occasion, the independent scientists signed up by the Ministry of Agriculture were at pains to be reassuring. Only 1.3 per cent of samples showed excess levels of pesticides, they said, and even these were orders of magnitude below the danger level at which brains start to shrivel. Did we believe them? Did we heck. Why turn up a chance to put the boot into the farmers when they are down and take a swipe at their partners in crime, the supermarkets, if we can?

I suggest we may be the victims of an altogether more sinister conspiracy. Of all the arguments about diet, the one area where there is a consensus is on fruit and veg - we should eat more. It is the best defence against the vicissitudes of modern life which manifest themselves, sooner or later, as cancer and heart disease. Now, we are told, along with our daily apple or pear we may be swallowing half the output of Porton Down. So we stick to chips and die from heart disease.

Then we had dioxin in fish fingers. Figures buried in a Ministry of Agriculture report unearthed by Environmental Data Services, the pollution information agency, suggested that anyone eating more than one a week may breach the World Health Organisation safe limit for ingestion of the toxin. Has anyone done the risk benefit calculation, I wonder? Oily fish is known to protect against heart attacks, which claim 150,000 lives a year. Cutting them out is like removing a flak jacket in a war zone because of the risk of dying from the heat.

Lastly, vaccines. It's clever, this one. The public don't like them, worrying about the impact on children's immune systems. So what does any half canny Government do? Easy - create a shortage. The British Medical Association helpfully stamped its foot last week and called the shortage "scandalous." This triggered a stampede to get protection, with university students besieging surgeries for meningitis C before the start of Fresher week.

Ingenious, no? Vaccination becomes a must-have membership badge, essential protection against dread diseases dreamed up by pesticide-fuelled scientists in baby food factories. Now, that's what I call a conspiracy.

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama


Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before