More trade association deceits about sugar

One more trade association – one more set of evasions, this time by Barbara Gallani, the Food and Drink Federation’s director of food science and safety, on the programme the Truth about Sugar (Thursday evening 9pm BBC1).

Dont get me wrong, I have no sympathy for the line being pedelled by presenter Fiona Phillips and her battalion of health-foucsed academics – they seem to be suggesting that if labelling has failed to change our eating habits, the solution is even more labelling.

This is nonsense. The solution is surely to tell people not to eat supermarket products but to buy their ingredients and make their own meals; and to convince people to do that by destroying the myth that products are more convenient, cheaper and tastier than the meals we make ourselves.

However, after listening to Ms Gallani being interviewed by Ms Phillips, I concluded that at least the health academics were the lesser of the two evils.

I dont think I have seen such a blatant case of a spokesperson completely ignoring the questions, which were about the benefits of the traffic light system (which helps identify high levels of fats, sugar and salt). The transcript speaks for itself – she can’t manage a direct answer to any question. Also note her wonderfully ambiguous use of the word nutrient – it covers such a multitude of sins.

Q. Do you think that if all food producers were made to adhere to the traffic light systems it might help because that is clearer than all other systems that exist?

A. Well I think that there is not a single solution for a problem such as obesity that is so complex.

Q. But a traffic light system would help, wouldn’t it, because if you see a red next to the sugar that would make me put it down?

Q. The information that is available on (unclear word), whether it is through the reference intake values, whether it is through the traffic light system, is clear and is accurate.

Q. Do you not think it would be a whole lot clearer if the packets showed how many teaspoons of sugar. Then everyone would understand that.

A. The reason for the amount of sugar having to be labelled per 100 grammes or per portion in grammes is again in the food information to consumers regulation, where all nutrients are treated the same. And a gramme is a very well recognised unit, when if you talk about teaspoons of tablespoons, what do you think, four, five, six grammes.

Not one direct answer out of three. No doubt Ms Gallani said what she had been told to say by the lawyers and PR department but, by looking so evasive, she destroyed her own case.

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