Thursday, March 4, 2010

Do Better Labels = Healthier Americans?

Everyone opposed to a healthier America, please stand up.

Now, everyone who believes that a leading cause of obesity in America is deceptive labeling, please eat a double bacon cheeseburger.

According to the FDA, "22 products made by [17] companies violate the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The violations include unauthorized health or nutrient-content claims, and unauthorized use of words such as "healthy," which have strict, regulated definitions. Companies receiving these letters must respond within 15 business days, detailing the steps being taken to correct their labeling."

Really? This is what we are worried about?

Please do not misunderstand, I am all for honesty in packaging and labeling and advertising; this is good stuff. And I am all for a healthier America. But at a time when dollars are tight, Americans are fat and healthcare spending is out of control, are we really supposed to think this is an important use of anyone's time and money?

And while I am quite sure that all 17 of these food companies are hustling to cover their arses and make whatever changes are necessary to appease the FDA (and they should), I can't help but think there are bigger fish to fry... or bake if that is the healthier alternative.

My dad used to tell me that the secret to a stable life was relatively easy: "All things in moderation," he would say. But my dad was an independent man, like most Americans. So despite his own advice, he ate and drank and smoked what he wanted. And when he suffered the consequences (which happened often) he never once blamed it on "unreliable product labeling" or lack of government protection.

So, while I am glad the FDA is doing their job to make it easier for health-conscious Americans to easily access reliable information about the calorie and nutrient content of food, I am nonetheless skeptical.

When Americans decide they want to get healthy, they will get healthy. Until then, they will eat all the wrong foods regardless of the labeling.

In the words of Popeye, a great American, "I yam what I yam and tha's all what I yam."

In the words of Wimpy, "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."

And there you have it.

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