The Food Inspectors

“They may be stupid, sheep, but they’re not idiots.”

The Food Inspectors

Ah, reality television. Designed to show you the truth behind your dearest hopes and darkest fears…

Well, maybe not quite, but that’s evidently what the director’s ambition is. The Food Inspectors is sort of a cross between How Clean is Your House? and Grimefighters, and is filled with scare stories and shocking – or not-so-shocking, actually – statistics (“In Dorset alone, there have been eight sheep-rustlings in the last year alone!” Wow, a major crime syndicate there. Does Scotland Yard know about this?) to motivate you to Clean Up Your Food Life! And it has that annoying technique where the camera zooms in suddenly on the presenter’s face that’s designed to make what he’s saying edgier than it actually is. “The food inspectors are the people protecting us against dangerous dinners!” I’m terrified.

(Sarcasm, people, sarcasm.)

But we meet some great characters on the food inspectors’ journey through everything that could possibly harm you food-wise. There’s the PR guy for a sandwich chain who cannot pronounce the word “ubiquitous” (“ubiquacious”, anyone? What does that mean?) and who is apparently unaware that the words “prior” and “before” mean the same thing. And the farmer who threatened to shoot cattle-rustlers on camera. And the owner of a garden-centre with a cafe who, upon being told that he could not serve coleslaw as the carrots had not been washed mechanically, began to rage against the machine: “They’re telling you what you can do in your own nursery!” No, actually, they’re telling you what you can do in your restaurant. It’s different. (But then the food inspector in that case was just as obnoxious. When he was told that Garden Centre Man was fine just to wash the carrots in cold water, he looked distinctly unimpressed, although Chris Hollins tried to cover it up with an “aren’t-food-inspectors-reasonable?” moment.)

But, at an hour, The Food Inspectors is just too long. Fly-on-the-wall documentaries like this one should never last more than half an hour, or forty-five minutes at the outside; any longer than that and you feel a bit ill from all the disgustingness revealed on screen, and from your own voyeurism. And, well, it’s quite boring after the message has been rammed home ten times. If you don’t clean your kitchen properly, You Will Die. Right. Thank you, BBC, for brightening up my evening.

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