Blog: Lunch (but no Ferrero Rocher) with the ambassador

Catherine Sleep | 27 June 2003

Went to lunch this week at the residence of the Finnish ambassador to the UK. I was part of a group of food and health journalists there to learn about some of the research that the Finns are doing into functional foods. You can read about it on the site by clicking the link below and following the link at the bottom of that article.

Nice people, the Finns. Despite the grandiose setting of the ambassador's residence in Kensington Palace Gardens, the event was pretty informal. A former deputy prime minister of Finland, the ambassador Pertti Salolainen and his wife made us feel very welcome in their home. It must be quite hard, living over the shop. On the other hand, it’s a magnificent shop to live over.

Chatting over a splendid lunch, the ambassador didn’t miss the opportunity to push the case for Helsinki to be chosen as the seat for the new European Food Safety Authority. It’s hard to believe how long that particular debate has been grumbling on, isn’t it? I’ve been writing about the food industry for more than five years now, and one of the first stories I ever wrote concerned the location of the proposed EFSA.

I still think Helsinki has a strong case – the country has an excellent food safety record and state-of-the-art facilities and technology. Moreover, Finland does not yet host an EU Agency. However, the longer the political wrangling continues, the greater the likelihood it will end up in Brussels, where it’s already set up shop on a provisional basis.

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