Should Taxpayers Have a Say in How Food Stamps Get Used?

I came across the following piece when compiling the weekday Food For Thought column, but I’ve got a bit more to say about this than I could fit into a typical line of snark.

In the US, where food stamp use has become prevalent because of the economy, there is much debate over what the stamps should be used for. Experts now want to ban junk food from qualifying for food stamp use. This currently applies to hot prepared food, household products, tobacco, dietary supplements and alcohol (note – this probably varies from state to state). The idea being that food stamps are to be used for healthy nutritious food. Which totally makes sense. Under a junk food ban, food stamps could not be used for pop, chips, chocolate, etc.

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All That and a Bag of Chips

Somewhere, Jamie Oliver is crying.

The new conservative government of England (hey, what happened to the balancing forces of a coalition?) has caved in to demands from the junk food industry and has scrapped the Food Standards Agency (the equivalent to the FDA). Which means that junk food companies are now free to self-regulate.

It seems that the junk food industry and its lobbyists weren’t terribly impressed with a motion to put stop-light style labels on the front of food packages indicating healthy and poor choices. The industry won that battle, arguing that consumers could use the existing nutrition labelling to calculate the percentage of each nutrient that the food item provided. This is similar to what we have in Canada and the US and let’s be honest – who sits down and calculates their daily intake of every nutrient?

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