Last week, ahead of the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, The Grocer launched a campaign urging the government to Junk the Spin and engage with the industry in developing a sustainable, long-term health plan that will tackle the problems facing the country.
We took a deliberately provocative stance to make people sit up and take notice - and we make no apologies for that. It is only by ensuring that all stakeholders in the food chain are talking sensibly about the issues that we can ever hope to initiate a sensible dialogue. Now that everybody’s listening - and, judging by the feedback we have received, you clearly are (see page 30) - it is time to start having that debate.
And, on that point, we have been gratified by the calls we have received from our colleagues in the national print and broadcast media who have rung us to find out more about our campaign. A change in attitudes? No. But it’s an important start because we recognise how difficult it will be to have a sensible debate about food and health. After all, it’s not just the government that needs to junk the spin. Politicians from all parties are guilty of treating this industry as a convenient political football. More worrying than that, however, are the negative headlines that batter the industry on a weekly basis - often generated by single-issue lobby groups.
So, from this week, we will be carrying out our own policy of ‘Naming and Shaming’ - highlighting the worst examples of spin that we come across (and if you have any examples, please let us know). On a positive note, we will also be ‘Naming and Praising’ those initiatives that show the positive impact the industry can make - and we know there are countless examples out there.
At the same time we’ll continue to campaign against any efforts by the government, or their agencies, to foist single traffic light labelling on the industry. We don’t need simplistic labelling initiatives that will demonise otherwise healthy foods or further confuse consumers. Instead, we urge the government to work with the industry on labelling that incorporates guideline daily amounts - which give consumers all the information they need.
We will also try to persuade the government to join-up its thinking, put a public information campaign at the heart of any health action plan and recognise that its work must start in our schools. And it must start today.
a manifesto for change