Be positive on exports

Sir, It was encouraging to see so many strong food and drink operations in your fascinating Britain’s Biggest Brands feature.

However, it’s worth remembering that not only the ‘big boys’, as measured by UK Nielsen data, seize the many opportunities for sales outside the UK. Smaller ones also display muscular performances in export markets and fly the flag internationally - indeed, we work with a number that are much sought-after overseas across several categories.

Even newly established, niche, lower volume, even very local operations - for example, specialist confectioners, craft brewers and winemakers - should at least consider what they can gain by entering export markets: business growth, diversification, spread risk, new partners and investment.

Export is a daunting, complex undertaking and nobody said it was easy, but there are no minimum size limits and in an age of uncertainty, it should not be considered unrealistic for anyone to have a global outlook.

Sean Ramsden, founder and CEO, Ramsden International

Hygiene problem

Sir, In Chris Elliott’s article, he refers to the increase in campylobacter isolations in humans in 2018 and the decreasing levels found in poultry, and then appears to blame hygiene at retail level. If that is so his argument is flawed. Although campylobacter is the commonest cause of gastro-intestinal disease in humans it is not always foodborne. Best estimates are that 50% of cases are due to food and 50% are acquired from the environment in which the pathogen is ubiquitous.It was very dangerous therefore to do as the FSA did to suggest that reducing campylobacter in poultry would result in a comparable reduction in human disease.

Poor hygiene at retail level can of course result in food poisoning, but it must be remembered that campylobacter, unlike most of the other causes of food poisoning does not multiply outside the body, and poor hygiene is likely to favour other pathogens. In any event Professor Elliott may have been a bit quick off the mark. Public Health England data published by Public Health England shows that the number of human isolations in the first four weeks of this year decreased by 36% compared with the same period in 2018.

Norman Bagley, head of policy, AIMS

Responsible naming

Sir, The Portman Group’s recent updates to its Code of Practice will better protect families in supermarkets.

The new code includes a rule that a drink’s name, packaging and promotional materials or activity must not cause serious or widespread offence.

This is welcome at a time when premium quality RTD cocktails are becoming bestsellers in the alcohol aisles.

The popularity of premium canned cocktails will continue to grow, and this ruling will help encourage innovation in responsible branding.

Steve Perez, chairman, Global Brands