Well, Now We’re Screwed

This is the letter I just sent to the Minister of State for Agriculture regarding the announcement that the Conservatives are considering loosening the restrictions on functional foods. If you care about the fact that food companies are allowed claim their foods are healthy because they’ve added extra vitamins, or “healthy bacteria”, please contact the Agriculture Minister and the Minister of State, as well as the shadow cabinet ministers from the opposition parties and your own member of parliament and let them know that you want these restrictions tightened, not loosened.

The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn
Minister of State (Agriculture)

cc: Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture,
Wayne Easter, Liberal Agriculture Critic,
Alex Atamanenko, NDP Agriculture Critic,
Olivia Chow, Member of Parliament, Trinity-Spadina

Dear Mr. Blackburn,

I am writing to you regarding the announcement that the government is considering easing federal restrictions on “functional foods”, as detailed in today’s Toronto Sun: <http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2011/01/24/17017606.html>.

Given the overwhelming research indicating that function foods are merely advertising ploys; that the addition of vitamins and minerals serve only to help sell products; and that front of package nutritional claims are intentionally misleading, why would our government be so foolish and naive as to consider loosening these restrictions instead of tightening them?

Please, Mr. Blackburn and Mr. Ritz, instead of following the lead of the US, look at the work being done by the European Union to tighten legislation and prevent false health claims and misleading nutritional information. Look at all of the lawsuits against companies like Danone whose health and nutritional claims have been proven to be false and misleading.

As a food writer who focuses on nutrition and food politics, and as someone who combs the web for stories related to the same topics on a daily basis, I can assure you that a move like this will not be beneficial to Canadians, but will only increase confusion about the true nutritional value of our food, and more importantly, will contribute to the ongoing concerns of increased obesity and health-related issues affecting so many Canadians.

Mr. Easter and Mr. Atamanenko, as the shadow ministers for your respective parties for the Agriculture portfolio, I encourage, nay, beg, you to put pressure on this government to not let the corporate processed food producers run roughshod over the health of Canadians in order to increase their profits.

Please… MORE restrictions on these companies and the ploys they use to sell people processed foods… not fewer.

Sheryl Kirby