Unhealthy health regulations

2012-05-07 07:14

Chris Moerdyk 

I have to wonder about the obsessive nature of bureaucrats who so often start off really well developing laws and regulations that would be of immense benefit to the  nation and then they get onto a roll and just can’t seem to stop themselves from regulating and regulating as though there were no tomorrow.

Inevitably, they end up by creating laws that effectively kick the consumer in the teeth while trying to protect them consumer from dental decay.

Two months ago new regulations came into effect in South Africa spelling out what food advertising and labelling could and could not say.

Basically, it all looked pretty darn good. As someone who has this strange habit of wandering through shops overseas looking at how various brand promote themselves, I have for years now, believed that South African food labels have been way head of anywhere else in the world in terms of useful information. Especially as I am someone who has to watch my carbohydrate and sugar intake.

At first glance our new regulations looked great.

I was interested to see that the editor of a magazine called Health Intelligence that my wife and health conscious daughters-in-law now treat as some sort of oracle, agrees with me.

He pointed out that, for example, the regulations forbid any food labelling making a nutrition claim if such a claim applies to all foods in that class anyway.

Like saying that Brand X Olive Oil is "cholesterol free" because olive oil doesn't contain cholesterol anyway.

The new regulations make it compulsory to list allergens such as soya, dairy, eggs, nuts and shellfish among others.

Great regulations and in fact, I would have been happier if they had gone further and insisted on warning the population of this country against overindulgence of refined sugar - something that has effectively screwed up my life.

Anyway, let me get back to this obsession with bureaucrats not knowing when to stop and taking good health regulations and turning them into unhealthy regulations as well.

As Health Intelligence magazine rightly pointed out: "The regulations have gone too far in their noble intention to (protect) consumers from misleading claims, they have effectively banned truthful claims as well."

This means that consumers can no longer be informed about the health value of beneficial ingredients. In fact, the words "healthy" and "nutritious" are no longer permitted as a description of bona-fide nutritious and healthy ingredients.

I find it quite staggering that these new regulations effectively ban substantiated and truthful claims.

Even the Health Products Association says it is "disappointed that helpful information with regard to the relationship between certain foods and certain diseases such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular conditions and even cancer, have not been addressed in the regulations".

Seems crazy to me and is a typical example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Basically, it all boils down to taking away the consumer's right to choose.

Our government bureaucrats started off being wonderful guardians of our health and well being with these regulations, but have inadvertently turned out to be over-protective nannies that simply do not trust the "children" in their charge.

It seems such a pity that some bureaucrats just don’t know when to stop when they are on to a really good thing.

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  • gerry.pelser - 2012-05-07 08:01

    "government bureaucrats started off being wonderful guardians of our health " But they shouldn't be. Wonderful or otherwise. the only "guradian of my health" is ME. WTF does the government have to do with my health? Oh, because personal health is such a burden on the national healthcare system? Why don't we just privatise that as well. Social darwinism exists, and it cannot be eradicated. Bah, humbug to all this bulltwang.

  • Judith - 2012-05-07 08:25

    The ban I would like to see is NO sugar allowed in savoury items and no salt in tinned fish. I cannot eat anything that is tinned because of the continual addition of sugar and salt

  • lesley.tucker.7 - 2012-05-07 08:55

    I disagree, Chris. I prefer not to see any sort of claim, about health or anything else, on food packaging. Just tell me what's in it and let me decide what I wish to put into my body. Corporates cannot be trusted to educate the public on good nutrition. However, government seems unable to do so either. Which is a rather grim fact as an unhealthy population ultimately affects every taxpayer. In the meantime, I'll be taking personal responsibility for my own good health and hoping my fellow citizens will do the same.

  • Mfundi - 2012-05-07 10:18

    I agree with Lesley, don't tell me about how great a product is just tell me what it contains. I'll make up my own mind as to whether it benefits my health or not by doing the necessary research.

  • Templar - 2012-05-07 15:06

    For heavens sake, my packet of smokes have a health warning on it, I still smoke. I don't care if there's minced bunny ears in Marmite, I love the stuff. Why are we so obsessive about what we eat? Go graze some crome of a car bumber for all I care. This government must stop prescribing to me how I should live and what I should/should not eat. While on the subject of food; I cannot stand vegetarians and vegans and "I don't eat this and I don't eat that blah, blah blah. Get over yourselfs. There, now I'm going to get my 5th (or is it 7th) cup of coffee for the day. (with white suger in it).

      zagrijsv - 2012-05-11 11:21

      Your picture says everything about you!

  • Earthbuzz - 2012-05-18 11:19

    Simply look at the size and conditions of government employees, what do they know about nutrition. They should first set an example of good health before they can advocate to others. And don't tell me that they are under nourished because they are poor. Sick and tired of the BS!!!

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