Big Food: Whose Responsibility?
While we anxiously wait for the new Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD), MOFAD Roundtable brings together experts to discuss today’s most controversial food issues. A great way to present opposing viewpoints with audience participation, last month’s Roundtable was on “Marketing and the Ethics of Big Food.”
Do food companies have a responsibility to public health? The food industry has the means to do good for the consumer’s health, but will they choose to? When social benefit and economic benefit are up against each other, more often than not, making a profit wins.
Public health lawyer, Michele Simon, thinks the food industry has an unfair advantage pushing its agenda in food policy and through “deceptive” marketing, and it is the role of the government to regulate them. Chairman for the Institute for Competitive Excellence at CUNY Queens College, Howard Moskovitz, thinks spending money to properly educate the consumer to actually want to live better is the key. Assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, Christina Roberto and international health care policy analyst, Derek Yach agree that healthy living (and eating) education is needed, but the government, food industry and marketing executives all need to step up to support the greater public health.
I actually agreed with many points of the panel. On one hand, the food industry does engage in “deceptive” marketing, selling us a certain (unattainable) lifestyle we can get through purchasing this or that food. On the other hand, as consumers, we need an education overhaul. With all the conflicting messages from the media about what we should or shouldn’t eating, its no wonder the food industry can so easily sway us. So how do we resolve this?
Is it as easy as consumers need to demand food companies to stop telling us what to eat? Do we need the government to tell us what to eat? Can we really make a decision without advertisers pushing us? The reality isn’t a simple yes or no answer to these tough questions. Because all these questions do come up about this one topic, it makes sense that to improve our complex food system, we need all players (food companies,, government, educators, public health advocates, advertisers, consumers, etc) to come to the table to have a real discussion about public health.
Listen to full coverage of the MOFAD Roundtable at Heritage Radio Network