Saturday, June 19, 2010

Food and the EC Food Lobby

(My) concerns about what is in the food we eat, have increased with the publication of the informative "E for  Additives" book  in 1987.   Naturally one hopes that obvious poisons and noxious substances are outlawed from being added to what we eat and drink. Also with the passage of time and scientific advances, substances which are not obviously bad for humans and which appear to enhance the taste of food or drink are found to be harmful and are banned - the Romans for example used to enhance the taste of their wine by adding lead so many in Roman times suffered lead poisoning.   I think it took  comparatively recent concerns about babies sucking on the sides of their (lead) painted cots to cause scientists to discover that lead even small amounts is poisonous. More recently   it has been  questioned whether children's hyperactivity being diagnosed as an ailment like ADHD has as its the underlying cause,  currently common  food or fizzy drink additives such as the dreaded  E102 (tartrazine) or E951 Aspartame.

Currently the possibility of  too much salt fat or sugar  in foods are issues  because these  additives are said to be leading to problems like obesity affecting children and adults alike.

Supermarket shopping is a bit of a chore at the best of times so anything that that can be done to ease that  chore is welcome. Reading the small print on food labels to try to work out if the product is really as good as its packaging often  cleverly leads us to believe, takes time and adds to the tedium so when some supermarkets eg Sainsbury's agreed to a simple traffic lights colour code arrangement  under which red means a lot of  say sugar and green means a little of say saturated fat in the food, this seemed to me to be a great advance and in the best interests of ordinary people buying their food stuffs.

Alas far too simple it seems for the bureaucrats of Brussels and the EC. After intense lobbying of Europe's MEPs by food manufacturers and processors, Brussels has just  rejected the clear green orange and red food labelling in favour of printing  a relatively complex series of numbers and words (of course in tiny print) on the labels of food products thus, in my view, camoflauging the amount for example of sugar and salt in breakfast cereals.

In Ted Heath's time the Common Market was  great  concept worth being a part of but  now that the Common Market is metamorphosing into the Euroean Union, the needs of the ordinary citizens seem to be taking second place to those of  big industries and their spin doctors/lobbiests.

Time for reflection perhaps?

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