Three people, including my son in Los Angeles, sent me these terrific photos yesterday, ostensibly of exotic fast food in Beijing, and offered by G. Pollak. The photos are a great cross-cultural experience. But who is G. Pollak and what’s the story about them?
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Canadian food companies argue that there is no point in banning food marketing to kids because the bans don’t keep kids from becoming obese. Maybe, but I’m just back from the Trans-Atlantic Consumer Dialogue in Washington, DC, a conference in which officials from Canada and Europe discussed what they were doing to address childhood obesity on the policy level. In a word–European countries are taking the challenge seriously and are doing a lot more than we are. I was most impressed by a report about Quebec, which banned marketing to kids in 1982. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but rates of childhood obesity are lower in Quebec than in any other Canadian province. But so are fast food sales so it’s no wonder food companies are upset.
The last holdout, Burger King, says it too will stop marketing the worst of its junk foods to kids. This means it will only advertise kids’ meals that meet these criteria:
- No more than 560 calories per meal;
- Less than 30 percent of calories from fat;
- Less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat;
- No added trans fats; and
- No more than 10 percent of calories from added sugars.
It’s agreed to cut back on some other practices too. A big step forward? Will this do any good? Let’s wait and see?
Without having to get into First Amendment issues, a federal judge agrees with the National Restaurant Association that New York City may not require fast-food restaurants that already have nutrition information available to post information about the calories in their products on menu boards. BUT: the judge also says that cities and states certainly can require calorie labeling as long as the rules apply to all chain restaurants with 10 or more outlets whether or not they make nutrition information available voluntarily. Good news? Will this encourage more cities to pass such rules? Can’t wait to see.
My son, who lives in Los Angeles, says the L.A. City Council is considering a 2-year moratorium on putting more fast-food restaurants in poor neighborhoods where obesity is a big problem. According to the L.A. Times, fast-food places are about the only restaurants in South L.A., a neighborhood which–surprise–also doesn’t have many grocery stores. So residents don’t have much of a choice. Do you think L.A. will do this? Do you think fast-food companies will stand for it? Stay tuned!
I am indebted to Michele Simon for sending a photo of this flier for the latest innovation in home-delivered food–Oreo Dessert Pizza. I’m sorry I can’t figure out how to make the photo bigger so you can see it better, but the way this works is that with any online pizza order you get a dessert pizza worth $3.99 tossed in. And, if you order two 20-ounce sodas, you get slap-on cooler wrappers, whatever those might be. The flier doesn’t disclose Nutrition Facts, so you have to guess the calories. Hint: Lots. Somebody try this and report back please.