Lance Forman, Managing Director Forman & Field, faces red tape with his salmon


- Credit: Carmen Valino - on shift

A few weeks ago, I had a knock at my door from two men from Thames Water. They said they had a right to inspect my business premises and check that everything complies with the latest, 1999 Act in terms of both saving water and preventing any risk of contamination.

Now, for readers unaware, my company, H. Forman and Son, is a smoked salmon producer regarded by food writers and chefs as a leader in its field, as well as being the world’s oldest producer of smoked salmon.

Our hygiene standards are impeccable and we have a viewing gallery open to the public.

My factory is a new build, state-of-the-art facility, which was designed and constructed only six years ago following our forced relocation by the Olympics, built to the very highest standards.

Consequently, I was neither embarrassed nor afraid of allowing these gents in.

Having done so, they searched around for anything they could find and compiled a report of areas which needed dealing with or else we would fall foul of the Act.

They threatened that if we did not deal with this they could turn off our water supply, which would essentially put an end to our business, thank you very much, and lose 60 jobs in the meantime.

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They were concerned that our taps come into contact with our fish and that this could contaminate Thames Water’s supply.

They suggested they might wish to dig up the road to put in a one-way valve to stop any such risk. I was slightly taken aback. Water being contaminated with fish! Were these people on the same planet as me?

Our salmon is certainly food safe and people eat it raw for sushi.

I asked the men from Thames Water why they had knocked on our door and not perhaps a business next to us? Why had they waited 14 years since the Act was passed to deal with this risk if it was such a grave concern?

They said that they had a lot of businesses to get round. They then pointed me to Thames Water’s list of “authorised plumbers” whom we could instruct to spend a few thousand pounds with to do such work to correct the “problem”.

Someone on high, with a brain preferably, needs to look into this.

I did tell the two drips that came around I would be publicising their completely pointless and illogical act, so I do feel obliged.

If you are a business and get a knock at your door from Thames Water, beware, it could be an unwanted tap.