(A biscuit is what Americans call a cookie. They call scones biscuits. And they call scones, which are pronounced "skons," skones, but I digress.)
It looks harmless enough, the chocolate biscuit: mostly sugar, wheat flour, some embedded buttons of chocolate, yeast and a sprinkling of chemicals. Lovely; pass the packet.
But ... my sources deep within the casualty insurance sector inform me that the chocolate biscuit is in reality a deadly killer. In the United Kingdom, 400 people are treated in emergency and accident wings of hospitals for biscuit-related accidents every year. I'm not making this up.
Accidents involving the deadly "chocky bicky," as Britons have referred to the little treats for thousands of years, include "somebody falling over while reaching for a biscuit," the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has reported. Also, they said, a fair number of people each year "slip on a chocolate biscuit on the stairs." And that's the way the cookie crumbles.
I must ask, Exactly how stupid do 400 people a year have to be to end up in hospital for eating a cookie? What must the number be in the United States? Who leaves chocolate cookies or any foodstuffs for that matter, on the stairs? Jumping Jehosephat! I know that some less intelligent folk can't eat a pretzel without almost dying but in fairness, the pretzel is a more complicated snack food.
Thousands of people a year worldwide succumb to the fatal nature of the chocky bicky and yet not a single insurance company that I have contacted sells cookie insurance. Not one. It's an outrage. Oh sure, if a hurricane blows through, they can cover that, but biscuit liability is not an insurable risk. O tempora! O mores!
News of the deadly threat was recently made public by Fox Biscuits, a British manufacturer. It invented a British Biscuit Advisory Board (BBAB) as part of a $5 million advertising campaign. A spoof "workplace biscuit risk assessment test" was sent to 5,849 local authority workers. Some 437 found time to complete and return the survey form.
"We developed the idea of the BBAB as a parody of the nation's obsession with health and safety but we never thought we'd be taken seriously," said Mike Driver, Fox's marketing director.
Some local authority workers in Britain have received training on how to eat biscuits safely and one authority has taken to supervising tea breaks for safety reasons, i.e. taken on staff to minimize the biscuit risk, which we must now rank alongside credit risk, counterparty risk and all the other risks that dog commercial activity.
A better story was reported in October. A British farmer was fined $375 for failing to meet "the psychological needs" of a cow he owns, because the animal's barn was too dark. Again, I kid you not. The farmer does not have electricity in his house and so had foolishly not installed for the cow's psychological benefit.
Britons have made a religion of health and safety. New wall plugs must be installed at least three feet off the ground in Englishmen's homes, formerly their castles, in case someone comes by who can't bend over and reach a plug nearer the ground. The rest of the British public has bent over as far as they can in the name of risk management.
Health and safety concerns over cookies, however, surely take the biscuit.
is a Bermuda-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®.
December 1, 2009
Copyright 2009© LRP Publications