Saturday, April 28, 2012


Lot has been said and written about the villainous role played by the processed food industry in raising a nation of children with distorted body shape due to over consumption of fat and calories served by the former. No matter what any body says the industry seems to be least bothered because of its "money power" that has kept national governments under the thump! Every time a proposal is mooted to impose stringent regulatory control over the industry, the strategy has been to coddle up to the government promising voluntary action to curb the manufacture of patently unhealthy but organoleptically mouth watering foods, only to break the same with neither remorse nor fear of retribution. Here is the latest instance of the destructive way the industry deals with issues that concern the health and lives of citizens in that "great" country, all call as the United States of America!

In the political arena, one side is winning the war on child obesity. The side with the fattest wallets. After aggressive lobbying, Congress declared pizza a vegetable to protect it from a nutritional overhaul of the school lunch program this year. The White House kept silent last year as Congress killed a plan by four federal agencies to reduce sugar, salt and fat in food marketed to children. And during the past two years, each of the 24 states and five cities that considered soda taxes  to discourage consumption of sugary drinks has seen the efforts dropped or defeated. At every level of government, the food and beverage industries won fight after fight during the last decade. They have never lost a significant political battle in the United States despite mounting scientific evidence of the role of unhealthy food and children's marketing in obesity. Lobbying records analyzed by Reuters reveal that the industries more than doubled their spending in Washington during the past three years. In the process, they largely dominated policy making -- pledging voluntary action while defeating government proposals aimed at changing the nation's diet, dozens of interviews show. In contrast, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, widely regarded as the lead lobbying force for healthier food, spent about $70,000 lobbying last year -- roughly what those opposing the stricter guidelines spent every 13 hours, the Reuters analysis showed.

While the above case pertains to USA, the experience is not different in other countries where the food industry has a free run with no modicum of respect for the regulatory agencies whose activities are tailor made to the needs of the big industry. Take the case of India where a clear dichotomy exists and it is the small enterprises which are "punished" for minor violations while the big fish never gets caught, no matter. how serious the violation is! Standards and specifications are manipulated such a way that only manufacturers with deep resources can "manage" them while the small players become the victims of the system. One thing is very clear that India always likes to be a country with strong rules on paper but with weak implementing infrastructure, few personnel and callous approach to safeguard the health of citizens!


No comments: