from Kevin Hawkins, director general, British Retail Consortium

Sir; The BRC wholeheartedly supports The Grocer’s campaign to get the government to ensure that its policies on obesity and nutrition are based on sound evidence, to the exclusion of the siren voices of those opposed to the modern British food chain.
During the last two years, we have been at the forefront of exposing the mythology of those who would demonise certain foods to create unnecessary angst among consumers.
It is health professionals who established the principle that there are no good and bad foods, only good and bad diets. What a pity that some groups are now actively lobbying for just those distinctions to be drawn. Such wrong thinking has no scientific base and could lead, for example, to further falls in iron or calcium intake if meat or cheese were deemed bad foods.
Simplistic, composite labelling systems will not improve the health of those consumers who most need to change their eating habits and may even lead to a less healthy overall diet, spreading food angst and encouraging eating disorders.
Government must continue to recognise that diet is a matter of personal choice and that neither it, food retailers, restaurateurs nor anyone else can force consumers to lead healthier lives. While government has a duty to set out the risks, ultimately it is for the consumer to decide how to live.
The challenge for policy makers must be to provide the framework within which consumers can be encouraged and supported to choose healthier diets as part of healthier lifestyles. What is important is that a cultural shift occurs, allowing dietary changes to adjust in tandem with our changing lifestyles. This can only be done by focusing efforts on clear and consistent messages. Spin and quick fixes will not deliver and risk doing more harm than good.