Postbag: My two cents on BTS hike

I see that skytrain fares may rise and the ceiling rate will be 51 baht (BP, Feb 21). This is a great example of logic not coming into play when making decisions _ queues at the ticket counters are bad enough already. Surely 50 baht would be more sensible?

SCOTTIE


Don't ditch preservatives

I greatly admire your excellent newspaper and reading it is one of the pleasures of my near-annual visits to teach in Thai universities _ however, I take issue with some of the views expressed in the article ''Fast food nation'' (Life, BP, Feb 19).

Preservatives, properly used, are essential adjuncts to ensuring that food is safe and fit for consumption. The limits on benzoate derivatives and sorbate quoted in the article are exactly in line with the internationally recognised values. The experts who set these limits are of course well aware that there may be multiple sources for their intake in a normal diet, and take that into account when setting them. The upper limits are sufficient to give good protection for the food while remaining well below those which might adversely affect a normal consumer.

I find the suggestion that their presence might be detectable in the foods' odours incomprehensible _ indeed the smells suggested would more likely be from food that has begun to decay due to lacking the protection afforded by these preservatives.

It is perhaps just possible that these preservatives might have some very slight effect on the gastrointestinal tract microflora, but the rich melange of spices and herbs that give the Thai diet its unique and irresistible attributes include many compounds that are known to have far more extensive effects on those microflora.

Science is only just beginning to explore these issues and we can be sure that acting in concert these natural and highly desirable food flavourings will have effects far more complex than their individual properties may suggest. As an European I am careful to take daily probiotics while I am here to support my unprepared digestion against such drastic changes, otherwise how could I fully appreciate your remarkable foods?

Propionic acid needs no guideline daily maximum intake as it is a natural product found in many foods and metabolised by the body's standard routes for all fats.

It's vital contribution to some of the more aromatic cheeses would make regulating its levels in foods totally impractical. I also observe that most of the analyses you quote show levels for the preservatives well below the advised maxima.

We should salute manufacturers who safeguard consumers by intelligently applying or omitting these preservatives.

I have seen significant improvements in food hygiene and safety over the years that I have been privileged to visit your universities and food industries and feel these advances should be celebrated, not denigrated.

DR BRIAN J B WOOD


Where's the horse meat?

With the horse meat scandal now reaching Hong Kong (BP, Feb 20), I keep wondering where Burger King and McDonald's in Thailand get their meat from.

Just a thought, yea or neigh?

JACK GILEAD


No justice for South folk

In her excellent appraisal of the situation in the South (''Get tough with trawlers'', BP, Feb 20), Sanitsuda Ekachai gets to the roots (no mangrove pun intended) of the problem.

Getting tough with trawlers would be a start, but that an unlikely change of policy would depend on Thailand's leaders, who have the deserved reputation of not only being outsiders, but ''rich, powerful and corrupt outsiders''.

Can they really be described as Buddhists?

So there will be no change, and no justice for southern Muslims. The result _ more violence leading to the deaths of thousands of poor Thai Buddhists (including soldiers) who are stuck in the middle.

MICHAEL DAWKES


It wouldn't happen here

The BBC headline reads, ''Jesse Jackson Jr pleads guilty to campaign money misuse'', and he is liable to serve a prison term.

Can anyone imagine what would happen if a Thai minister's son, or any other spouse of a rich or influential person, were ever convicted of any criminal activity that required serving prison time?

It simply wouldn't happen here in Thailand, would it?

MENTSCH


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