Monday, December 1, 2014

A radical approach for tackling food over "indulgence"-Is this the answer?

It is a common political ploy that when they sit in the opposition, the heaven is promised by their politicians but once elected they promptly forget their promises and every thing continues as status quo! Look at India where a new government is now in place and they seem to be caught in a trap because of their pre-poll promises, most of them being unimplementable. This is what one is reminded of, when a British politician, supposed to be the future Health Minister in the UK if Labour Party wins the next election, promises policy measures that would limit on the content of fat, sugar and salt in processed foods through mandatory laws. In theory this may be plausible but in practice it is doubtful whether any government will be in a position to radically control the food industry restraining their freedom to make foods which are demanded by the consumer. Here is a take on this interesting issue as reported from that country.

"Labour would look at Labour would limit fat, salt and sugar in children's food, says Andy Burnham the shadow health secretary has said. Andy Burnham said more radical action needed to be considered as the "status quo simply isn't working". The MP for Leigh also voiced support for making referrals for physical activity available in all GP surgeries.
He told Dermot Murnaghan on Sky News: "I think if people become more physically active then they get more control over what they are eating and what they are drinking and all the other things. I think also the time has come to look at the food industry. I've said many times, I just cannot defend the amount of sugar that children are eating. We've seen more and more sugar built in to our food over time." Asked if he could see the NHS bringing in cash payments from NHS funds to encourage people to lose weight, he said he was "not sure about that" but that "radical action in this area" was needed".

When one talks about governments' power to regulate food industry there is a "Lakshman Rekha" beyond which it becomes constitutionally inappropriate to put restrictions on the right of the consumer or that of the manufacturer. Recent failure of New York state in the US to restrict size of bottles selling sugary drinks to less than 16 ounce which was struck down by the judicial courts, is a lesson for every democratic country that has put personal rights on a high pedestal in their constitution. Even for compulsory labeling of GMO foods, governments seem to be hesitant to proceed and it is rather pathetic to see such desirable measures concerning safety of consumers, being passed on to ballot initiatives to decide! Is it not time for the United Nations to come out with a declaration that no country shall allow industry to make processed food products containing not more than a certain level of fat, sugar and salt and get the same ratified by its member countries? May be too far fetched to think of such radical measures under the present global environment!.


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