REGULAR readers may recall me banging on about the private sector's insistence that politicians create 'the right environment for business' and leaving firms alone to deliver wealth.
Governments usually want businesses to make more money – but there are times when the rules politicians and civil servants want to introduce will have no impact other than to put people out of work.
The pottery industry seems to be a particular target.
Now the European Commission (EC) is considering lowering the allowable levels of lead and cadmium that can be released into food by tableware. As early as next year, the EC wanted to decrease levels by 60 times for cadmium and 400 times for lead.
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This would be difficult if not impossible, the industry claimed, and now Stoke-on-Trent materials technology company Ceram has produced evidence that the EC's approach is fundamentally flawed.
Ceram found that a plate measured using acetic acid at the factory gate (the EC's adopted method), could show levels significantly higher than the proposed thresholds. If, however, the same plate is analysed using real food under realistic conditions, the levels of metal released can come in considerably below EC 'in-service' limits.
The new proposals could have harmed the North Staffordshire pottery industry, with potentially no impact on public health.
Now the EC has agreed to re-think the proposals in light of Ceram's findings, a move that could help preserve employment in and around Stoke-on-Trent.
I don't think anyone in industry equates 'creating the right environment for business' with politicians allowing firms to ignore environmental or public health responsibilities.
But when politicians are guided by a flawed approach, they can easily create the wrong environment.