"When I finished "Puckoon" I vowed I would never write another book. Here it is". Thus wrote the Goon and comedian Spike Milligan in the front of his 1971 book "Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall".
In an altogether more humble manner, I vowed when I started this blog to never write about the same subject twice. Economics and business generally, of course, are dynamic and therefore changing all the time. Fair game, therefore, for further comment, but no, I am about to break my self-imposed rule and return to a topic I have addressed recently.
The rationale? I am not in favour of being told what I can and cannot eat by anyone other, perhaps, than a doctor who says, "By the way Mr. Eldon, if you eat lots of fatty fried food you will eventually kill yourself!". (It's not what I eat, actually, and I am not in favour of killing myself, but I know what he means).
Why is it that our Government seems to believe that we have no idea whether we can make our own informed decision about what is in a container of food? Mind you, they seem to have the same notion about giving us the vote too, but that is another story.
I am back on the subject of food labeling - I wrote about it in March 2008 in a piece entitled Food For Thought - (But Not For Long). If you are unfamiliar with the topic, or need to refresh your memory, may I suggest you click on the link?
Now I do not expect the words of one blogger to make a difference, but the note was picked up by the media and others. The subject was also being discussed at the same time, and much more widely, in many households in Hong Kong. But there seems to be a perception somewhere out there that this is just an "expatriate" gripe. And perhaps given the low number of expatriates in "Asia's World City" this does not warrant a great deal of attention but, Hong Kong Government, I really don't think this is just an expatriate issue. It goes much more broadly than that.
The complaints are becoming more vocal, more widespread and are rational.
Perhaps Government have gone too far down the road now to turn back without looking silly. Maybe they are so entrenched in their view that, for example, a petition campaign from all sectors of the community will not sway them. Maybe they think, as I suggested before, that the numbers are likely to be so small it will eventually all blow over. Maybe they don't heed their own advice; a recent announcement recognised the growing prevalence of obesity and a concurrent increase in diabetes amongst all its social classes. The same piece also said "...it is important to make sure Hong Kong's ...food market is open and competitive which will help broaden the food supply and widen consumers choice...". Well, not if this legislation goes through.
In the area of diabetes at least, we can perhaps rejoice that "full fat" products remain on sale. "What's that? Oh, people can choose whether to buy them?" Errm - sorry, what's a double standard?
Look, is it of so much importance and do you really think that people are unable to make up their own minds? And do you seriously have so little faith in your own existing "truth in advertising" laws which covers the area of labels? Well, if yes, then seek a compromise. Allow those people who want to take the risk of buying "fat free", "cholesterol free" and "sugar free" products only do so if they have an identity card evidencing that they are not minors! Make them produce an identity card in the supermarket to buy "dangerous goods" that actually are pretty good for your health - and a lot, lot better than the air that we chew!!