Why PR will have its work cut out to overcome the food faddists

As one who is interested in food - or, perhaps more precisely, in eating - I tend to read all sorts of stuff about it. So I have naturally read the executive summary of the report by Professor Phil James on the proposed Food Standards Agency (FSA).

As one who is interested in food - or, perhaps more precisely, in

eating - I tend to read all sorts of stuff about it. So I have naturally

read the executive summary of the report by Professor Phil James on the

proposed Food Standards Agency (FSA).



Paragraph 2 contains this amazing statement: ’Many national surveys

reveal that the public has lost confidence in the safety of British

food’. Research also shows that the public regularly lies through its

teeth as, for example, when questioned on whether it would willingly pay

more taxes for better public services. If the Prime Minister believed it

would, he would never have committed himself to stick with Tory levels

of direct taxes and spending for two years.



If we have lost confidence in British food why has our diet never been

so varied? Why, if we are frightened to open our mouths do we eat and

drink our way through the day - and leave the country littered with the

remains? Why, if confidence is so low, are our High Streets one long

parade of restaurants and fast food outlets? And why, if sitting down to

a meal is such a trauma, have we never eaten out as much?



Professor James’ report is clearly built on a pile of self-serving

hogwash.



This could raise serious doubts about his concept of an FSA. I can,

however, see the point of a food agency on the lines of the Health and

Safety Executive, divorced from the Ministry of Agriculture and

Fisheries which has always been too producer-oriented for my liking. But

there is no need to overstate the case with nonsense about lost

confidence in British food. After all, life expectancy rises every

year.



But what concerns me most about an FSA, which Labour is pledged to

introduce, is the possibility that it will be hijacked by the food

faddists. Professor James says public and consumer interests should be

in the majority on its controlling Commission. Already, the National

Food Alliance, an umbrella body of some 50 pressure groups of

unquantified support but, of course, claiming to represent the consumer,

has been at it.



In a recent broadcast, Geoffrey Cannon, chairman of the NFA was

enthusiastic about the sort of agency proposed by Professor James. But

he claimed that a ’rump’ of food manufacturers - and especially of sugar

- would try to sabotage his report. In other words, the food faddists

are on the march.



We shall hear a lot more from them as they seek to impose, through the

eventual FSA, their prejudices and costs through unnecessary regulations

upon the consumer they claim to represent.



I wish all those PR companies representing manufacturers and real

consumers a successful campaign against the fanatics.



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