France’s bid to have its cuisine listed as a world treasure has been dealt a blow after it emerged that a quarter of its restaurants break hygiene rules or serve up food unfit for human consumption.
The shocking and frankly rather disgusting news was revealed by the country’s own Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Michel Barnier, who said that visits by health inspectors to around 9,400 restaurants showed that more than 2,600 establishments were in breach of at least one hygiene rule.
According to AFP these ranged from filthy toilets and kitchens to unhygienic staff.
Around 30 tonnes of food were dragged away by gagging inspectors from around 550 restaurants. Closed signs were slapped up at 37 restaurants which failed to meet even the most basic hygiene and food safety rules.
Barnier admitted that the very image of France was at stake. However, you might still be able to tuck into the finest foie gras and garlic drenched gastropoda safe in the knowledge that it was mainly the lower end establishments that were at fault. If you were thinking of patronising pizza stalls, kebab shops or restaurants in tourist hot spots, on the other hand, prepare to spend some time back in your hotel bathroom.
Of course, pizza and kebabs are not exactly French cuisine, and Barnier followed up the point, blaming imported food for much of the problem, singling out dodgy Brazilian beef and moody sunflower oil from the Ukraine.
And, let's face it, the discomfort many Brits feel after their Saturday night chicken tikka massala or halftime pie is nothing to do with the mythical dodgy pint.
All the same, the news will hardly help France in its attempt to have its cuisine listed as a world treasure by Unesco. Apparently the effort is not going so well, though we don’t think the French should completely lose heart.
Afterall, the same UN agency recognises the Knights Templar, despite the fact that the order of religious warriors was brutally suppressed over 700 years ago. Funnily enough, by the French. ®