Symptoms of the malaise in our food system form an orderly queue these days, like black cabs at a taxi rank. Here’s a seasonal selection of the most recent revelations.

From the money men we hear of the mysterious black hole in Tesco’s accounts and, on the back of that, of the inventive methods supermarkets use to have their suppliers fund their profits.

Courtesy of Premier Foods, we learn that “commercial income” - the payments from suppliers principle - extends to food manufacturing and processing, as well as retailing. There is even a phrase for this now well-established practice: ‘pay-to-stay.’

From would-be guardians of public health comes the embarrassed admission that more than 70% of supermarket chicken is contaminated with campylobacter, 17% of it at a potentially lethal level. Oh and by the way, contamination rates are rising.

Campaigners warn us that through the mechanism of the TTIP the US, strong-armed by its corporations, is browbeating Europe into permitting the washing of poultry in chlorine to render it fit for human consumption. A classic case of treating ­symptoms, not causes.

The media and trade unions pass on dystopian insights into life on the industrial food factory floor, the grim daily reality for the poor souls who assemble sandwiches, and other processed foods, then sold on by the multiples: 12-hour shifts, minimum wages, freezing conditions and zero-hour contracts.

“The wheels are coming off the Big Food-Big Retail wagon”

So inured are we to scandals in our food chain, we risk seeing these glaring failures as inevitable. But isn’t it time to join the dots? Wretched livestock reared in sordid indoor units; farmers and manufacturers battling insolvency as retailers squeeze every bit of liquidity from their meagre margins; workers who put in long, alienating hours in soulless jobs yet still don’t earn enough to live on; food that’s routinely dangerous enough to kill those who eat it. Surely we need higher aspirations than this?

We must draw the glaring conclusion: our hopelessly compromised food system is based on brinkmanship and risk, and it increasingly stinks. The wheels are coming off the Big Food-Big Retail wagon.

Joanna Blythman is a journalist and author of What To Eat