Letter: Fruitful thoughts for apple lovers

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your interesting leading article 'When secrecy clouds the issue' (11 February) concerning the patulin scare contains the mysterious statement: 'The Government inspires less trust because of . . . its fear of the public.' I take this to mean: 'The Government's fear of creating a quite unnecessary panic-stricken response on the part of the public.'

Later in the article, you ask why have a World Health Organisation safety limit, if to breach it creates no hazard? This is where you can appreciate the Government's dilemma.

The World Health Organisation limit is a target concentration of patulin which virtually guarantees that no ill effects will occur over a lifetime of consumption. The target incorporates an enormous safety factor, in part to ensure that no harm will accrue if the target is missed from time to time.

You seem to assume that missing the target once is going to wipe out a generation of apple juice drinkers. You should realise that even the most potent of poisons can be swallowed with impunity, if the dose is small enough, hence the safety factor.

Yours sincerely,



The British Nutrition Foundation

London, WC1

15 February