Semaphores in labeling and ‘viral deception’. The diatribe that moves away from the problem


Semaphores in labeling and ‘viral deception’. Controversy over British ‘traffic lights’ masks failure of European healthy nutrition initiatives

On March 9, 2017 ,Big Food reignited the controversy over traffic lights on labels-this time, promoting their adoption at the European level-with a very specific, ‘viral deception’ purpose. (1) Masking the failure of European healthy nutrition and balanced lifestyle initiatives by taking the debate elsewhere.

The European Commission, back in 2005, had established a special platform (2) where to gather ideas and promote public-private synergies aimed at mitigating the growing epidemic of obesity- and overweight-related diseases. In the 12 years since the initiative was launched, the epidemiological situation has seriously deteriorated. Demonstrating the inability of big industry to self-regulate the production and marketing ofjunk-food.

The increase in childhood obesity certainly cannot be attributed to increased consumption of traditional foods (such as pasta, extra virgin olive oil, vegetables and fruits, dairy products, etc.). Rather, it is to the decay of diet quality. With prevalence of HFSS(High Fats, Sugars and Sodium) foods, often taken outside of canonical meals and for no reason.

Nutrition education is not enough. Young people continue to be bombarded with reminders of unnecessary foods, such as carbonated soft drinks, potato chips, and sweets. Which are redolent in advertisements, TV programs (
product placement
) and on
social networks

It is imperative to ban all forms of promotion of HFSS foods. Discourage their consumption through appropriate tax policies. (3) Prohibit its sale in vending machines near schools, hospitals and public places with youth attendance. With the dual purpose of reducing the consumption of unsuitable foods with respect to the current dietary needs of the population, and to stimulate industries to improve their nutritional profiles.

Semaphores in labeling and ‘viral deception’

Traffic lights on labels, in this sense, will be able to help raise consumer awareness of nutrients and substances to watch out for, to reduce excesses and promote balance in the diet. They will certainly not affect the consumption of traditional foods. No traffic lights, in fact, will nullify the joy of a good plate of pasta or a serving of Parmigiano Reggiano. But they will help to avoid drinking Coke as if it were water.

‘viral deception’
fomented by the industrial giants’ announcement, however, has been worth the ‘off-topic’ polemical reaction of the Italian agribusiness lobby . With the support of Minister Maurizio Martina. Who could have reasoned about the health problem at the origin of the debate, which accounts for more than 25 percent of public health costs. Instead, under the guise of outrage, no one will do anything.

Dario Dongo

(1) Semaphores in labeling and ‘viral deception’. The neologism ‘viral deception’ expresses the collective deception, viral indeed. Its acronym, emblematic in this sense, coincides with that of ‘venereal disease’

(2) ‘EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Acries and Health’

(3) Purpose taxes, such as the ‘ soda tax’ and ‘sugar tax,’ have already proven effective in some areas of the planet (from Britain to Mexico). They are therefore spreading