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08 March 2008

Comments

Tik

Dear Mr Eldon,

I share the same concern with you that under the proposed nutrition labelling laws in Hong Kong, many foods that are currently available, especially healthy foods, will disappear from the market.

As you mentioned, those products which claim to be “Fat Free” or “Sugar Free” will not be exempt from the labelling laws even if they sell less than 30,000 units a year, and will very likely be gone.

What is even worse is that products with nutrition claims, such as “Zero trans-fat” or “Omega 3, will be outlawed and banned from sale in Hong Kong. These claims, however, are permitted in other countries and can help consumers make healthy food choices.

Ironically, those food products that carry no nutrition claims but contain a high level of fat, sugar or trans-fat etc can enjoy the small volume exemption, while healthier food products cannot be exempt simply because of their claims. It seems that manufacturers are getting punished for producing healthier foods.

In fact, many of us who are worried about the likely disappearance of healthy foods are now circulating by email a petition against the proposed labelling laws. The petition will be sent to the Chief Executive, Chief Secretary, Secretary for Food and Health, and the Legislative Council.

It is high time for the Hong Kong Government to give another thought to the nutrition labelling laws.

Anon

I'd advise reading "in Defence of Food" by Michael Pollan. Most of the foodstuffs in question wouldn't be recognised as food by your grandmother. Whilst the food labeling laws may be flawed, severe restrictions should be required for those foods making the greatest claims to be "healthy." This might just stop the obscene sight of highly processed white bread, stripped of anything natural, but with "added Omega-3 oil" being described as "good for your heart"

David Eldon

The point is well made, and one with which I agree, but I would also suggest that the existing laws - and this is the point - in Hong Kong are already capable of dealing with false claims, if the Government chooses to use them.

gweipo

I'd agree on the comment about 'in Defence of Food', but then again, on the other hand, what normal thinking adult is really going to be fooled by the nutritional claims on a package of say crisps or breakfast cereal? Although perhaps the law is geared towards the people who have to sit in the city buses every morning or the KCR listening to and watching the most spurious and dubious claims from slimming clinics and orthopaedic 'doctors' ... maybe the government needs to change their focus a little ...

Anon

Hello Gweipo

Seems a lot of normal thinking adults have been fooled by nutritional claims on junk food - maybe thats why the world (not just the USA) has the obesity and other nutritional/health problems it has. The law might indeed be geared to those traveling on the KCR or Citybuses, I believe they are in the (substantial and normal) majority here...

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