Government Backs Off the Food Industry

Anti-obesity lobbyists and children activists have been trying for years to get food companies to stop marketing high sugar, high sodium, and overall unhealthy foods to children.

Food companies, such as McDonald's, General Mills, and others, create advertising campaigns that include cartoon characters with the specific purpose of luring kids towards their salty, fatty, and sugary products.

Such shameful advertising has been going on forever, I know, but the problem is that the United States government (which was getting involved in an effort to curb this sort of pandering) has now backed off due to pressure from the food industry.

You heard right. In this Michelle-Obama-Save-the-Children-from-Obesity age, the truth is that the government, as usual, does not do enough to keep kids healthy and prevent them from becoming fat, heart-diseased, and diabetic adults.

The inter-agency working group (IWG) made up of the Federal Trade Commission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, formulated primarily out of concern about junk food advertising being aimed at children. The agencies had proposed several changes to the industry, including banning the use of clowns and cartoon characters in such advertising, as well as not allowing the advertising of salty, fatty, sugary foods, and foods with trans fats to children aged 17 or under.

The IWG firmly believed that such restrictions were a step in the right direction towards protecting American children from becoming unhealthy adults. Well, somewhat firmly believed. Okay, maybe 'firmly' isn't the right word.

After an expected backlash from the food industry, the IWG has backed down from some of its proposals for the food industry to regulate itself. It now says that children 12 - 17 are okay to target (because we all know what fantastic decision makers adolescents are) and that there is no longer a need to eliminate cute, cuddly, cartoon characters.

Hmmmm. Could this be because McDonald's is one of the biggest food lobbyists fighting governmental regulation of the industry? McDonald's is part of the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, an industry group created to "police itself." It also happens to have the support of the Association of National Advertisers. Hmmmm part deux.

This isn't rocket science (or whatever passes for rocket science these days). The food and advertising industries don't want change because they will lose money. Food companies pay advertising companies to create "child-friendly" advertising, which in turns reels in the kids, which in turn makes money for the food companies. Win-lose-win.

The kids are bedazzled into buying and eating crap that will not sit well with their adult bodies in the future. The government realized that this was not, what I personally like to call, 'good form.' So, the government, trying to actually make real "change" (yes that is an Obama reference) decided to form a committee, analyze the problem, and propose changes.

The food companies, in an understandable uproar at the possibility of losing all those gullible customers, decided to fight against the IWG's proposals. The government backed down. What a shocker.

As long as we have politicians who are swayed by corporate power and money, we will never have proper leadership. Governmental decisions need to be made according to what is morally right instead of being based on political self-preservation.

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Ily Goyanes
Contact: Ily Goyanes