We Get Greener Kit Cassingham & her Bigger Half

Food Labeling and Health

What's the difference between junk food and "taste treats"? That's not the lead in to a joke, but it is an interesting question that's coming to a head in Italy. The EU is passing legislation to make food labeling more accurate, especially in regards to sugar, fat, and salt. Italy's beloved Nutella, made by Ferrero, could likely be impacted.

Foodie, my German, friend sent me an article she thought I'd enjoy. 'Hand off Nutella' group accuses EU of 'nutritionist fundamentalism' talks about European food labeling, and people's reactions to it -- especially in regards to Nutella lovers.

Nutella is a chocolate-hazelnut spread that's a cultural icon. Italians know it's a high calorie food item, and they don't want the front of the jar to be labeled with red warning stickers.

People, like the Ferrero VP, say they are afraid regulations, like the food labeling ones, will get out of control and spread into our personal spheres. Don't we all fear, at some point, that legislation of different things will go too far and impact our lives too much?

How far do we go in improving the food labeling of packaged foods we buy at the store? Do we want to make trans-fats illegal, as Denmark and Austria have done? Ban junk food commercials on TV at specific times of day, as Norway, Sweden and Britain have done? Perhaps have fat- and sugar-taxes on fast foods as Romania has proposed?

People have the right to eat as they want. They should also have the right to buy what they think they are getting, and to not be bombarded by marketing ploys to sway them to eat unhealthy foods. Where's the line between protection and control?

Let's go for labeling foods and food products for what they are. And let's not get so caught up in healthy eating that we forget to enjoy the occasional Nutella, or other taste treat.

Comments

Kit, Let's face it. The government is trying to protect us from ourselves. Humans are basically lazy. Most of us don't want to do more than we really have to to get by. We can all read the labels, we can all learn to shop healthy, and we can all learn to eat healthy. Most of us choose not to put forth that effort. Or if we do try we don't make it a lifestyle change to continue the effort - we fall back to being lazy. I had nutella for the first time about 2 months ago - OMG! Was it GOOD!! Then I read the label. I guess I will not be sitting down with a spoon and the jar of Nutella again...

The fact is that I want my food labeled with the information I need to make an intellegent choice for me. I don't want the government to ban anything to protect me from myself. Unfortunely, we have a huge crowd of people out there that have never read a food label or don't know how to use the information if they do read it. We need better education of the poeple - without all the confusing studies coming out every other month that conteract each other - so they can make the correct choices for their lifestyle.

Mark Gagermeier at June 29, 2010 9:01 AM

Mark, I feel your pain. Nutella is so good I won't buy it anymore. I totally understand your comment, and the manufacturer suggests you not quit buying Nutella but to just moderate what you eat. I wish I could!

I generally agree with you about keeping the government out of my kitchen and larder. I too want good labeling on my food. And I want to make my own decisions on what I eat. However -- did you see that coming? -- there are some cases where I think the government should ban certain ingredients.

I think some ingredients are so bad they should be disallowed. Treat them as we do tobacco. And as you say, there should be good food education -- and not by marketers.

This is a good time to plug Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. You can read my article A True Food Revolution, if you haven't already. I like his style so much that I've purchased two of his cookbooks.

-Kit

Kit Cassingham at June 29, 2010 11:36 AM

"Don't we all fear, at some point, that legislation of different things will go too far and impact our lives too much?"

Will go too far? In many cases, it already has. And the remedy for it is often expensive & time-consuming. Witness the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the right to self-defense. Now Chicago came up with yet another law that will have to be challenged through the courts.

In many ways I think Libertarian, with a bit of both conservative & liberal thrown in for balance. If what I'm doing affects nobody but me, nobody else should have a say about it. If I choose to eat a jar of Nutella a day, and don't accept public money for my healthcare, there's no problem. The problem comes when people want it both ways - do what you want AND have help with the consequences.

Lynne at July 4, 2010 7:32 AM

Lynne, I totally agree with you. Sadly, most people aren't as responsible as you, they need to blame someone else for their own failings, their own decisions and actions. Yes, sometimes we are tricked into our behavior, and that deserves remediation, but most of the time we make mistakes with full knowledge of the consequences and want to have others pay for our mistakes.

I think the system needs to change. Labeling is good, but not all warnings are appropriate in addition to the labels.

I almost bot a jar of Nutella the other day, but thought better of it since I'm already struggling with my weight gain.


-Kit

Kit Cassingham at July 5, 2010 8:48 PM
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