The silly season is well and truly upon us. Sir Paul McCartney urges us to give up eating meat on Mondays in support of the great crusade against global warming. But why pick on poor old beef cows? Don't dairy cows a rather more numerous species share the same problem of lower-bowel flatulence? Why not have one or two milk-free days a week as well and give the dairy farmers a good kicking?

More beguiling but no less ludicrous, the food puritans' old favourite, the Fat Tax, has raised its head again. Writing in The Sunday Times, Minette Marrin argues that since overweight people absorb an excessive proportion of the NHS resources, all 'junk food' which she declines to define should be "made extremely expensive by high taxes". The revenue thus raised, she says, would go straight into the coffers of overburdened local NHS organisations and help protect them from the coming cuts in public spending. Ingenious.

But if, as she points out, productivity in the NHS has actually fallen over the past decade despite a three-fold increase in the money invested, maybe a cut in its resources would be the incentive it needs to use them more efficiently.

Another bright idea from Ms Marrin is that all schools should make healthy meals compulsory, offer pupils one meal only, with no choice, and somehow make them eat it. Leaving aside the likely reaction from those on the receiving end, implementing such a plan would be a clear violation of the pupils' human rights and would almost certainly not survive a legal challenge.

Finally, we have the latest wheeze from the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs a proposed abolition of date-marking on all food products to reduce food waste. Now, those of us who were reared in the pre-date marking days might think this is a good idea. We know when fruit, vegetables, milk and meat aren't fit to eat just by using our eyes and noses. But the market has moved on since then. Generations have grown up with 'best before' and the like and how would any of us assess the fitness to eat of a ready meal or many other processed products without some sort of guidance on the packaging?

Don't blame the food industry or consumers for erring on the safe side. After all, the entire nanny state is built on exactly this principle of 'just in case'.

Kevin Hawkins is an independent retail consultant.