June 20 2011

The Feds Announce New Regulations on the Food Industry

Julie Gunlock

An interagency working group, made up of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), just released new regulations on the food industry: "a preliminary proposal for voluntary principles to guide industry self-regulatory efforts to improve the nutritional profile of foods marketed to children." 

Pretty catchy, I know.

According to this "preliminary proposal," food manufacturers should "encourage children, through advertising and marketing, to choose foods that make a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet (Principle A) and minimize consumption of foods with significant amounts of nutrients that could have a negative impact on health or weight - specifically, sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and added sugars (Principle B)."

That's great. As a mother of three very young and seemingly perpetually hungry boys, I'm thrilled that I'll be able to pass what was previously my job (monitoring and controlling what my kids eat) on to the food manufacturers.  My children, inspired by these "new marketing techniques," will finally fall in line and eat right!  No longer will I have to argue with my four-year-old, who seems happy to live on a diet of buttered bread and popsicles, about the need to eat his peas.  No longer will I have to tell my two-year-old that he has to "eat two more bites of his turkey sandwich before he can have a cookie."  And my one-year-old can just eat whatever healthy food falls on the floor.  Good luck, kid. 

What will I do with all this extra time and energy?

The Working Group also recommends that "as industry develops new products and reformulates existing products, it should strive to create foods that meet both of these two basic nutrition principles" (see Principles A and B above) and that "industry focus these efforts on those categories of foods that are most heavily marketed directly to children, such as breakfast cereals, carbonated beverages, restaurant foods and snack foods."

Oh, that's wonderful.  I'm thrilled that these bureaucrats are working so hard to raise the prices on our groceries.  There's no doubt that these regulations will add to food costs as companies overhaul their products and marketing strategies to satisfy the feds.  But, what's a few more hundred dollars spent each month at the grocery store when, as the Working Group says, the "proposed principles, if fully implemented by industry for these categories, should lead to significant improvements in the overall nutritional profile of foods marketed to children" and will ultimately "improve children's diets and health and address the epidemic of childhood obesity."

Moms (and dads) know this is bunk.  While these federal agencies join the White House in continuing to ignore the vital role of parents, moms and dads understand that this is just another government power grab to control and dictate what they eat (and more specifically how food companies do business).  As usual with the Obama administration, the solution appears always to be with regulation, not trusting parents to make the right decision for their kids.

Helping kids eat well is just one of those things a parent has to do.  It's not always fun but neither is changing diapers.  These unpleasant parenting tasks are part of the job.  It's high time the government stopped trying to rescue parents from their basic responsibilities.

Leave us alone and eat your peas!

- Julie Gunlock is a senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum.

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