Without doubt, Brass Tacks is one of the most exhilarating studies of human emotions on any of the three channels

Frank Metcalfe’s VIEWPOINT
Yorkshire Evening Post, 10 May 1979

Without doubt, “Brass Tacks” (BBC-2) is one of the most exhilarating studies of human emotions on any of the three channels. Especially when it turns its visual and verbal spotlight on animals reared on the “battery” system.

The return of this explosive series slammed straight into contrasts between humans and living meat products. How humans subjected to similar conditions in intensive farming husbandry would soon be the victims of disease epidemics.

Even to the example of pigs suffering nervous breakdowns due to their style of living and having to be treated with tranquillisers.

Experts stressed an odd combination whereby to maintain health stocks, the animals or poultry had to be treated with antibiotics. Which also helps to speed up growth, Which also makes them disease resistant. Which puts the saleable products at risk.

Dr. Bernard Rowe sketched a frightening picture of how too much disease resistance can – and did – turn into an epidemic in 1977.

The meat and poultry trade hit back that their methods, which they claimed produced “cleaner” meat than years ago – and that to introduce hygiene checks suggested by their critics would cause a big increase in the cost of their products. The result – a likely sales resistance and 100,000 jobs in jeopardy.

Pharmaceutical experts dealt with the problems of curbing the black market, mainly emanating from Ireland, in cheap but dangerous drugs and of monitoring new agricultural products. Veterinary surgeons lashed the public for not being hygienic with the products they bought. “Cook, cook, cook,” said one with definite vehemence.

Everyone had a lovely go at everyone else.

The sad fact, though, remained. Britain is bottom of the league in Europe for food hygiene – and what really bit hard was the stark reality that more working hours are lost in Britain every year through food poisoning than from strikes. That 70 per cent of all cases involve the dreaded salmonella.

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