Friday, November 5, 2010

Fast food freak-outs

It never fails to amuse how much some people freak out over food. In Canada, the latest brouhaha was the launch of KFC's Double Down, which saw Ontario's Health Promotion Minister actually suggest she might review the sandwich. She quickly reneged, followed by an official statement from the provincial premier that no such review would be forthcoming.

The idea that government would get involved because a particular item of food has a lot of salt in it seems ridiculous. As long as the nutritional information is freely available and truthful, we should be able to eat anything we want, even it contains enough sodium to last us a month.

There was a similar situation in the UK four years ago when McDonald's launched the "Bigger Big Mac" as a limited-time promotion in conjunction with the 2006 World Cup. As the name implied, it was... uh... bigger. About 40% bigger than a standard Big Mac, actually.

British politicians went way further than their Canadian counterparts, with an actual petition started in Parliament to ban the burger. Liberal Democrat health spokesman Steve Webb said "there is no need for a bigger Big Mac." Of course, he's right - but then again, there's no need for theSnuggie, but I have one anyway.

As far as I can tell, McDonald's stuck with the limited-time nature of the Bigger Big Mac and it's no longer available in the UK (don't worry - I'll check). The same thing is, apparently, still available in Alaska, where it's known as the McKinley Mac (named for the mountain). The bigger burger is based on the same principle as the Big Mac, but it uses quarter-pound patties rather than the regular hamburger patties. That sounds deelish!


Tom Megginson said...

Regulating the healthiness of food can lead to ridiculous ends.

In the Doble Down case, my first thought was that I could walk down to any chip truck and buy a poutine that would make the DD look like health food.

And then there was the situation in the UK, where "junk food" was defined by fat and salt levels. This led to traditional British cheeses being labelled as "junk" and banned from advertising when kids were watching TV.

More recently, there is the Happy Meal nonsense in San Francisco. So now giving out toys with junk food is unethical?

People need to make informed decisions about what they eat. But you can't vilify the fast food giants just because they're a convenient target.

Peter Nowak said...

Well said Tom, I agree. McDonalds et al are easy targets while the real cause behind childhood obesity is poor parenting.

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