from Brian Walters, vice president, Farmers’ Union of Wales

Sir; The FUW shares your concern over the government’s traffic light labelling proposals.
The Grocer is right to highlight the fact that dairy products and bacon are likely to be demonised in the eyes of the consumer when a red ‘danger’ label is slapped on them.
Dairy products provide calcium and vitamins that are vital, especially for growing children. But this message will be lost on people faced with red stickers. It’s time the government stopped the spin and engaged in a constructive debate with the industry about healthy eating. Knee-jerk reactions do more harm than good.
It is abundantly clear that the majority of consumers are confused by the myriad health messages they receive. They are consequently not able to put together a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle that can be maintained long-term in a hectic lifestyle.
Government, food industry and other influential opinion-makers must educate consumers to understand the fundamental framework of a healthy lifestyle.
Specific health messages should be positioned within this framework, for example the damage caused by excessive sugar and fat consumption.
It may upset the confectionery and fast food industries but UK consumers need to be more active in controlling these. This will take much effort and co-operation from vested interests everywhere. The lead must come from government, but not in the form of legislation which will add to consumer confusion.

Would you ask a weather expert to design a new car? Then why are politicians being asked about re-designing foods? If the government was to attack this issue without working with the food industry, they could take us back 20 or 30 years in product development. We are already behind many EU countries with our healthy/functional foods and drinks, it would be a shame if this happened with most of our other categories.
If you want to initiate a sensible debate, why not start with a sensible campaign with clear objectives, or targeted at key policies. Do you have a labelling solution you want to be implemented? Perhaps reporting lines between the FSA/Department of Health should be clarified?
This Junk the Spin (do you also speak proper English?) campaign is not solid, particularly as it is mostly the media that has been whipping up a frenzy over food. Take the Cadbury Get Active campaign, supported by the government until the Food Commission got hold of it. Obesity needs to be tackled to save NHS costs long term. And that is government’s responsibility, Tory or Labour.