The cat i' the adage

"The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement" Karl Popper (1902 - 1994)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A little learning and a lot of interference

The EU intends to increase its interference in how food products may be marketed, reports MEP Martin Callanan.

The Commission's proposal for the regulation of nutrition and health claims made on foods would create a huge new bureaucracy to verify and authenticate all the "health claims" based on an emerging science called "nutritional profiling."

Among many serious shortcomings, a main problem of this legislation lies in food itself. Many foods do not necessarily fit easily into "good" or "bad" categories. For example, milk and cheese are both high in fat but also very high in calcium which is extremely important to children and women. Under this directive, foods' bad qualities would prohibit manufacturers from marketing their good ones.

But hold on. I think I'm warming to some of this:

Healthy eating options, such as Tesco's 'healthy eating' products and Sainsbury's 'Be good to yourself' range would also have to go. It is even speculated that using labels that tie into national government campaigns such as the British "5 a day fruit and vegetable" campaign .... would be prohibited.

I get so irritated by those "Be good to yourself" stickers encouraging consumers, amongst other things, to give up natural products for unhealthy hydrogenated spreads crammed with trans fats. As for the ghastly "5 pieces of fruit campaign", I shouldn't want to deny that many fruits are good sources of important nutrients, but, I suspect that the healthgiving properties of fruit are much overstated - certainly no research has been able to confirm that eating "5 pieces of fruit" a day has any beneficial effect on life expectancy.

But before I get too tempted to wave the EU flag, I think it reasonable to assume that the EU will only replace these poorly researched and intrusive campaigns with others which it will bully us into following. And now it's time for lunch.

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