Friday, January 26, 2007

Labour on food traffic lights

I started to write this piece with a view to seeing what it actually proposes. But on reading it I got angry and insulted. I felt belittled and talked down too. I felt that this document was treating me like a child. And most insulting of all that I needed someone to do the thinking for me. I feel the need to yell and scream at this document. But obviously I can’t point out every line in this policy. So here is some choice ones

People lead busy lives, so making healthier choices when shopping needs to be quick and easy. However, choosing the healthiest foods quickly is almost impossible at the moment for busy shoppers.

It really is not people are not stupid they know that chocolate is fating and celery not. They know that pre-packaged meals are not as good for you as fresh food. That Frosties have loads of sugar and porridge little. It really is not that hard to do. Yet Labour think so much of the electorate they think they do not have the intelligence to do that, that it is almost impossible for people to know the difference between good and bad.

The average person buys 61 items in 26 minutes during a weekly shop. Given that each purchase implies some examination of competing products, this means that shoppers have all of seven seconds to scan each label. Is it any wonder that consumers confess to a feeling of helplessness as they navigate supermarket aisles?

Two things. Firstly most people will buy the majority of the same products every week so that label reading was done either at a previous shop or outside this 26 minutes. And really how long does it really take to read the word Frosties. Why does it take someone 18.5 seconds to move between products. Who calculates that. Have you ever seen anyone time you in a supermarket. People chose to spend 26 minutes shopping it is not because of time constraints. How many people watch Coronation Street, lost Big Bother. They chose to watch TV and not shop. Do you get confussed in the aisle. Do you get panic attacks thinking oh no daddy or chips, daddy or chips, daddy or chips.?

Currently up to 11 different types of information are displayed on processed food products in Ireland. By the time a bottle of sauce or a ready made chicken dinner is on the shelf shoppers are often very confused about what the information on the label actually really means.

Ok lets take an average label for coca cola. Clearly marked are calories, fat, sugar, protein, fibre sodium. What is confusing about that? Are we seriously saying that the majority of people do not know sodium =salt?

Add to this the spiraling obesity levels in this country and it becomes clear that consumers need impartial assistance in making healthy food choices.

Look to cause of rising obesity is really very very simple. 1.) People are eating crap and 2.) people are not exercising. Now people know these things. They know litres of Coke are not good for you, that crisps are not good for you that chocolate is not good for you. Parents for instance, know this yet they still give their kids these products. No amount of coloured stickers is going to make them stop doing this. They already know.

The system would also address situations where manufacturers make unsubstantiated health claims about products. This is because Traffic Light labeling can reveal at a glance the levels of the key nutrients in each food product.

How is traffic lights going to help people know whether all these super yogurts like Activia or Actimal actually do anything?

But maybe I am being to harsh on Labour maybe people really are so stupid that they have to be told what to do.

Consumers in the UK have become increasingly aware that green means eat plenty, amber, eat in moderation and red, means eat such products sparingly.

Maybe we to are so dumb we need colour coding to know what to chose. Maybe I have too much faith in people. Maybe I am wrong in thinking that people buy chocolate inspite of knowing the nature of it. Maybe if people really have to question. Is it safe to dry a cat in the microwave after giving it a bath? Maybe they don’t realise sugar puffs are made from sugar. Maybe we really do need Labour telling us everything we should and should not do. Maybe we need a traffic light system for the next elections as well. Red means bad, use sparingly does it not?

1 comment:

Conor said...

I had my own rant in exactly the same vein yesterday.