MUCH OF the nation’s unhealthy consumption of sugar, salt, transfats, saturated fats, and alcohol is down to the promotion of products containing them by the giant corporations that dominate the food and drink industry.
How galling then that Pepsi, McDonald’s, KFC, Mars, Unilever and Diageo etc, have been asked by Tory health secretary Andrew Lansley, via five ‘responsibility deal’ networks, to help write policies on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease for the government.
According to the Guardian: “The alcohol responsibility deal network is chaired by the head of the lobby group the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. The food network to tackle diet and health problems includes processed food manufacturers, fast food companies, and Compass, the catering company famously pilloried by Jamie Oliver for its school menus of turkey twizzlers. The food deal’s sub-group on calories is chaired by PepsiCo, owner of Walkers crisps.
“The leading supermarkets are an equally strong presence, while the responsibility deal’s physical activity group is chaired by the Fitness Industry Association, which is the lobby group for private gyms and personal trainers.”
It’s tempting to sum up this farce by saying “it’s like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank” but even Dracula would struggle to levitate on a diet of fizzy pop, burgers and fries.
Lansley is continuing the Tory ministerial tradition of putting company profits ahead of health. In May 1990 during the ‘Mad Cow’ BSE epidemic John Gummer, secretary of state for agriculture, attempted to reassure the public that beef was safe (despite the accumulating evidence that BSE could jump the species barrier to humans) by trying to feed a beefburger to his four-year-old daughter, Cordelia. She sensibly declined!