21 March 1997

Four get funds

drink options

to find healthy

in our schools

FOUR Womens Farming Union members have won study awards from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

School milk campaigners Stephanie Spiers and Eunice Finney from Staffordshire WFU want to see a healthy alternative to fizzy drinks available from vending machines in all secondary schools.

"So many adolescents are calcium deficient," says Mrs Spiers who also wants milk to be made available to primary school children once again.

They are currently testing the acceptability of Cheshire milk, which is whole milk which keeps fresh for an extended period by virtue of a process developed at Cheshires Reaseheath College. Cheshire milk is now used in airline catering, says Mrs Spiers who points out that it does have a very slight textural difference from regular fresh milk.

Three-and-a-half and four-year-old school children who took part in a taste test found the Cheshire milk acceptable. However, the cartons in which it was presented together with drinking straws, created difficulties. Little children dont just suck, they squeeze and suck, Mrs Spiers says, which leads to spillage and soggy children.

A taste test for secondary school children is planned when a choice of plain, strawberry and chocolate flavoured Cheshire milk will be offered.

Public perception

Maureen Friday is a member of Kent WFU, but it was as a national WFU livestock committee member that she received her BBSRC award to study the public perception of food hygiene in the home. She is currently preparing a survey which WFU groups nationwide will help to carry out.

Yorkshire WFU member Barbara Scholefield has received an award to look at antibiotics, with special regard to their use in farm animals and the subsequent effect on human health.

Mrs Scholefield is also a member of the Halifax branch of the National Council of Women and the award was made to her in this capacity to educate and inform people in the north-east.

The NCW was considering resubmitting a resolution from 1967 asking government to put antibiotics and growth hormones on prescription only, explains Mrs Scholefield.

"I knew that growth hormones were banned in Europe and that we had good surveillance, also that more directives were coming in to ban further substances."

Mrs Scholefield, is also aware that there is no legislation about antibiotics, apart from the need to keep medicine books and the fact that they were only available on prescription, "And this was causing concern," she said.

Public concerns and fears will be expressed by a speaker from the Consumers Association at the Misuse of antibiotics? conference to be held at Calderdale College on May 17 as a result of Mrs Scholefields award.

Antibiotic process

Dr Ron Dixon of Bradford University will talk about the way in which antibiotics work. Their therapeutic use in animals will be the subject of Dr David Taylor, a microbiologist from Glasgow University Vet School, while Roger Cook of the National Office of Animal health will look to the future management of antibiotics, including their genetic modification.

"We shall consider whether or not antibiotics are misused," says Mrs Scholefield. "It should be a positive day."

Womens organisations throughout the north-east are being invited, and other interested parties will be welcome.

Ann Rogers