February 18, 2005

Stupid Regulations? No, Thanks. 

Last November my attention was caught by an idiotic proposal: labelling food items with a traffic-light style sign to indicate the level of risk posed to health.

Well, now it looks like this regulation is going down the drain:
Health chiefs are on the brink of abandoning a flagship food labelling scheme amid massive opposition from the industry.
Food and drinks firms have warned they will not co-operate with proposals for "traffic light" signs on products.

Ministers hoped the coloured symbols would help consumers choose healthier meals. But food giants insist the scheme is "unscientific" and have launched a huge lobbying offensive to derail the plan. Officials-admit they are now considering-"other options" for labelling. The traffic light scheme is outlined in the Government's White Paper on public health. The idea was that products high in salt, fat or sugar would carry a red warning symbol, while healthier options would carry green or amber signs.[...]

The industry is optimistic that the plan will be abandoned. Snacma director general Steve Chandler said: "Traffic light labelling is not something the industry will sign up to. The idea that you can distil all the nutritional benefits into a single indicator is fundamentally flawed. Even the people who helped come up with this are having second thoughts."

If the scheme is dropped, plans to crack down on TV advertising of junk food to children could also be in jeopardy. The Government had hoped to base new restrictions on the "nutrient profiling" system which could form the basis for traffic light labels. Ministers are waiting for advice from the Food Standards Agency.
Good, I say: better late than never for getting rid of some governmental nannies.


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