Mary Berry suffers shark attack

As she twinkled kindly but firmly over the Great British Bake-Off, Mary Berry established herself as the nation’s favourite granny. Now though, her reputation as the country’s most pleasant celebrity cook might be a little tarnished.

The culprit is a recipe in one of her cookery books for a dish of shark in tropical salsa. Sounds all very fresh and healthy – except for the shark that is. Environmental groups have pointed out that shark numbers have been seriously affected by over-fishing.

Graham Buckingham, speaking on behalf of the marine conservation charity Bite-Back, pointed out that sharks were under threat: "No modern cookbook should include recipes for shark and other threatened species," he said. "The last thing the marine environment needs is more people asking fishmongers for shark and swordfish because Mary Berry thinks it’s OK."

His sentiments were echoed online by numerous environmental groups who threatened the sort of action that authors fear even more than a shark attack – negative reviews on Amazon.

The offending book is a reprint of a 1995 publication, which makes you wonder why they took so long to notice. Berry reacted to the protests with some well-meaning words and a rather half-baked pledge. "My intention for any of my recipes is always to use responsibly-sourced ingredients," she said, "but in retrospect we realise this wasn't clear in the recipe. We understand that some species of shark are endangered and we have taken on board your concerns, I have therefore spoken with my publishers and we have both agreed that this recipe will be removed from future printings of the book."

The book was reprinted in 2012, so it’s unlikely that there will be any need for "future printings" in the foreseeable future. In effect Berry has said "sorry, won’t do it again", while the shark recipe remains readily available to anyone who wants it.

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