Recently sacked Minister of Austerity, Sir Peregrine Partridge-Greenwelly is claiming the real reason behind the government's decision to scrap food 'sell by' dates is not to stop perfectly safe food from being wasted, but is in fact a first step towards eventually enabling rotten food to be legally dished up as meals to elderly people in government run care homes.
He says the government intends to follow up the scrapping of the 'sell by' dates by next year changing the rules of the 'use by' dates as well, allowing food manufacturers to extend those 'use by' dates by an extra three years. This will lead to supermarkets saying their customers are refusing to buy anything within three years of the expiry dates. He says the government will step in with an offer to buy up those products cheaply and they will then be dished up for meals to elderly people in government run care homes.
"Many of the tins of food and so on will not be completely off," he says."If eaten by a younger person they would at most just cause them to have an upset tummy for a day or so. But for already weak and frail elderly people eating that food could result in something far more serious than an upset tummy."
The ex-government Minister says it forms just one part of a whole bunch of measures gradually being brought in by the government to tackle what is seen as a problem of people living longer. He says the government is extremely concerned that if it is not nipped in the bud soon it could make it impossible to keep up the 120m pounds per day interest Britain is having to pay to the banks.
I pointed out to Sir Partridge-Greenwelly that it would hardly go unnoticed by the British public if thousands of elderly people were to suddenly start dying from food poisoning.
"That's simply not true," he said. "People aren't surprised when they hear that someone old has died. They expect it. The food won't be crawling with maggots, and will still be within the new legal 'use by' date. They will only be off enough to ensure that Mr Cameron's Big Society stays only as big as required. Old people have all sorts of physical problems and illnesses. Anyone claiming an elderly relative has died from food poisoning will simply receive an official response of 'there's no proof'. There are plenty of other more convenient things a doctor can jot down on a death certificate. It's already an unwritten rule for doctors to use something like bronchopneumonia as a cause of death for elderly people when the more likely cause was negligence. For decades bronchopneumonia has been killing a suspiciously large amount of elderly people in Britain's hospitals and care homes. When was the last time you heard of anyone raising any questions about that? If you believe what's on the death certificates then bronchopneumonia is killing more elderly people than cancer and heart attacks put together! People aren't bothered. They're too busy watching the soccer or cookery programs on their televisions."
A spokesman for the government insisted there are no plans at present to bring in any changes to the current rules regarding 'use by' dates on food.