Since 10 Downing Street slapped down George Freeman, the new and inexperienced Life Sciences Minister. for suggesting that the government might impose a sugar tax, no doubt many a processed food manufacturer went to bed a happier man . . . in the last two or three days with the thought that the government is on its side.
Well, he’d better think again because there’s a great deal of difference between a modern government taxing the unnecessary addition of sugar to food and a Victorian government acting against some bakers of the 19th century who were adding lead oxide to bread flour in order to whiten the loaf. The big difference is that many intelligent purchasers of bread in those days would have been unaware that they were being poisoned, whereas any intelligent person today is fullly aware of what bean canners, confectioners and producers of attractive ready-made meals are doing to encourage the furtherance of obesity and a host of other epigenetically tripped-off mid-life diseases as a by-product of their desire to maximise theri profits.
The truth of the matter is that modern governments generally are indifferent to the dangers of sugar because government ministers and their kind of folk in the upper social classes are already aware of the dangers of sugar and have no need to pass sumptuary laws against its profligate use. As Helene Whitson has informed readers of this blogsite a few days ago, governments — such as San Francisco has discovered — can rely on the ignorance of the hoi polloi about the mass poisoning of sugar in order to avoid the bother of legislation which won’t give them any significant benefit at election times, and also upset some important people that politicians bump into quite frequently.
But one thing governments can do, and ought to do as part of their general duty of care, is to publicise the dangers of sugar that’s been added into so much food. This would be particularly desirable in the UK with a National Health Service liable to topple over financially with the costs of dealing with obesity. As for the manufacturers of process foods, they’d better start losing some sleep over the probability of class action, or several of them in due course, especially now that we are also apeing America in having a Supreme Court at long last on which, hopefully, a more discerning standard of judges will be sitting than the hodge-podge we have had until now.