Sunday, September 26, 2010

What you don't know won't hurt you. As far as you know.

Sure, the revelation that the federal government is illegally withholding test results showing consistently false advertising by food manufacturers might seem like evidence that our public sector needs to be a bit more focused on the public interest rather than on papering over corporate misdeeds:
(W)hen the Organization for Economic Co-operation and DeveThlopment has just reported that better food labelling is a crucial component in fighting Canada's obesity epidemic, the government's actions are particularly damaging. Earlier this month, my Postmedia colleague Sarah Schmidt revealed that testing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency found that 122 out of 208 breads and baked goods had contents that didn't match label claims that they were low-fat or contained certain grains.

Among 161 snack foods, 79 were found to have ingredients that didn't match labelling about low sodium or certain contents.

Other claims found not to stand up included "100 per cent pure," "genuine" and "real."

The CFIA also found that one in five packages of "lean" and "extra-lean" ground beef tested did not meet their labels' claims.

Schmidt's report prompted another Postmedia colleague, Paula Simons, to ask the CFIA for the names of the foods and their makers. She was (wrongly) told federal privacy legislation prevented the agency from naming the products and manufacturers.
But in true free-market style, can't we all agree that anybody who really cares whether the food they buy at the grocery store actually fits the description on the label should have to pay for the testing themselves?

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