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Saturday 13 November 2010

Inmates Invited To Run Asylum

You don’t have to look to know that you’re at the entrance to Crewe’s Grand Junction Retail Park: the smell gives it away. That smell – so reminiscent of the last time I ate the stuff, sometime in the mid 1970s – comes from the KFC outlet which occupies its own building, right next to all the passing traffic. Junk food at bargain prices washed down with equally unhealthy fizzy drinks is the order of the day there.

You would not expect companies that serve up such junk to be in the vanguard on giving Government advice on healthy eating: they would be unlikely to state the obvious, such as avoiding their own brand like the plague. But it seems that is exactly what Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has in mind.

And along with KFC, he’s invited McDonalds, PepsiCo (who also own Walkers Crisps), Kellogg’s of breakfast cereal fame, and Mars to give their thoughts on how to tackle public health issues. It does sound, as has already been said by concerned campaign groups, rather like putting the tobacco industry in charge of smoking policy.

True, the folks from Which? And Cancer Research UK are also slated to be on board, but so will catering provider Compass, whose offerings to unfortunate schoolchildren have included the notorious “Turkey Twizzlers”, which so infuriated Jamie Oliver (and which contained what kind folks call “mechanically recovered” meat).

Perhaps this is what Young Dave and his fellow jolly good chaps mean by their strategy of “nudging” people into changing their habits. But with food industry players handed the chance of rewriting the health guidelines, the only nudge that will be seen in Crewe is visitors to the town centre being nudged into McDonalds, and those at the Retail Park similarly shunted into KFC.

More mess for a future non-Tory Government to sort out, methinks.

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