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How much regulation do we need on food safety?

All this discussion about food labelling, obesity, additives, good fats versus bad fats, good carbs versus bad carbs is enough to make anyone’s head spin.

We’re getting cancer from eating certain foods. We’re avoiding cancer by eating others.

You need superfoods! There’s no such thing as superfoods!

It’s the government’s responsibility to keep us healthy. It’s up to the individual to eat good food and exercise.

There is just so much information nowadays on anything and everything you could possibly imagine, and working out fact from fiction is no easy task.

Decades ago, there were far fewer sources of information, which is obviously both positive and negative.

Because with the reduced availability of information, there was less panic about what to eat, when, how, and with what.

The 50’s are renowned for being one of the unhealthiest of eras, minus war and depression times, for western countries.

Processed meat, processed bread and processed canned goods became staples, as everyone marvelled
over the developments in technology that were making life so easier.

And if the advertisement said it was fine and dandy for your family, well, why would there be any reason not to believe them, people thought.

With the ever-increasing access to information and opinions out there today, the Average Joe (or Josephine, if we’re going to be politically correct about this) can and will damage the reputations and claims of even the biggest companies, with a single click.

Food manufacturers are slowly being forced to be more transparent with their processes and ingredients.

Some will suffer in the environment, others will flourish. Many already have.

Your milk smells a bit off: you get online and check if there’s a recall on the product.

You don’t understand how much sodium you should be eating: ask your friends on Facebook or Twitter.

You didn’t like the new product from a company: get onto a comment section somewhere, anywhere online, and tell the world.

All this free speech provides a golden opportunity for companies doing the right thing and is an absolute nightmare for those that aren’t.

It’s notoriously difficult to get food manufacturers to discuss anything other than the parts of their business that is going well, because companies know that admitting you have a problem, or even had a problem, can be suicide.

People are picky about food safety, and so they should be. It’s killing us, if you believe the hype.

But that means companies are hesitant to mention they have ever had a problem with the work environment, additives, preservatives or imported goods.

This means that even those close to the food manufacturing industry know very little about what is truly going on behind the scenes.

And that is a major problem.

We all know most additives are bad for us, but without being a chemist or science whiz, nobody knows off the top of their heads what each additive number is, what it does, or how much of it is in the product they’re considering buying.

The suggestion of things like traffic light labelling and bans on junk food ads directed at children are a step in the right direction, because it’s getting people to be conscious of what they’re putting in their mouth and the mouths of their children.

But do schemes like this miss the point? Do we need more regulation on the additives and chemicals in the foods, not a glaring red light on a bag of unsalted almonds that are filled with natural nutritional goodness but have too much ‘good’ fat in them to be considered healthy?

The problem is that even if you want to eat healthily, it is difficult because nearly everything available to us these days is filled with chemicals and preservatives and artificial ingredients.

So, you think, I’ll buy an apple for a snack. That’s healthy and it doesn’t come in a packet and it’s not dried or sugared or anything. It’s natural and sweet and healthy. Great idea.

Not necessarily so, if you believe the documentary Food Matters, which delves into the problems with modern food and how it is killing modern people.

In the documentary, scientists and food experts argue that not only is it unnatural for us to eat wheat and corn and preservatives, but even the produce we eat is not what we think it is.

Using and reusing soil to grow produce leads to a substandard basis for our produce, then when chemicals are added to eradicate diseases and other nasties, the important elements like Zinc and Vitamin D that should be in the soil are not there anymore.

So they are not in the food, which is then shipped across countries and oceans and stored for months before purchase, meaning basically any nutrients expected to be in the produce are eradicated.

The documentary argues that this is this is the reason for the 3pm slump and why so many of us wake up tired every morning; not just because of our busy lifestyles, but also because of the food we’re putting in our bodies.

They argue that a plant based diet of mostly raw foods – because cooking them apparently removes any nutrients that were once there – and the inclusion of vitamins to fill any nutritional gaps is the answer to a long and healthy life, and not only preventing cancer, but treating cancer.

While all this information should be taken with a grain of salt (pun intended), and not necessarily received as fact, it does raise some interesting points about the human body and what it is supposed to handle, and the power of government and big business on our health.

Do you work for a food manufacturer? What is your company doing to prepare for possible changes to health regulations?

Is the food safety debate being overdramatised or do we have to do something to ensure the safety and longevity of our bodies?

You can purchase the Food Matters documentary and read more about it on their website, but consider this fair warning that you will be scared to ever cook food again or look at wheat and grain, and you will start researching juicers and looking up organic wholesalers near you.

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