Text and images by KF Seetoh @ Makansutra
The burger that says “come get me, I am famous and dangerous and made of sin”.
Like guns, unhealthy foods don’t kill people, eating a lot of it does. So I read with piqued curiosity about the harmless move to ban unhealthy food advertising , especially those targeted at children. It was mentioned that the government will ban food and beverage advertisements that are high on fats, sugar and salt content. It also mentioned that it’s not any brand they are out to suppress but rather, the food content. My warped sense of reality is going overtime on this.
While I totally understand the need here to inculcate wiser eating choices as a meaningful movement to help keep future health issues at bay and to reduce nationwide health care cost, I really think it’s not about the fats, sugar nor salt. It’s the fat-wallet, thick headed attitudes of lazy i-generation parents whose idea of raising kids is to feed their sweet offspring with mass made couch potato finger food that require no washing up after. And for desserts, they make them surf their i-something device and fall that sweet sugary blog powered by the freebie meal given by the slick marketers. Dear sweet mother of earth, these folks will never be the salt of this land.
It is also heartening to know that about 14 food and beverage companies have banded together for a Responsible Advertising to Children Pledge and it includes Macdonald’s, Coca Cola, Nestle and even the Subway sandwich guys are considering it too. And in our nation of ironic acronyms, that Pledge should be – RAPE (of our diets). What’ even more ironic is their commitment “not to promote their products in primary schools unless requested by the school administration for educational purposes”. What? Like, a school principal would want a burger chain stall in their canteen so their kids can learn about the entrepreneurial spirit of uncle Ronald Macdonald or the Colonel fried chicken chap. Maybe the principal also need educate their kids on just how pretty a row of colourful and beautifully designed sugar charged soft drink vending machines can prettify a plain wall by the canteen.
Then what, when they have some form of success at banning the ads- will they move on to axe ads on other fat, sugary and salty stuff- like baked pork knuckles or ter ka, chendol and salt baked chicken. Even more frightening, there could be a campaign or rule to suppress food blogs touting the authentic sins of this land? A logical minded leader (with their KPIs in mind) can suggest that no mention of any food items above 200 calories per serving can be mentioned in their postings or stories. They will reward the bloggers with “Healthier Blog” stamps on their sites. Or, that no restaurant of food stall can use pictures of these unhealthy items. So the bak kut teh chap can only put up pictures of lean ribs soup and preserved, hardly salted vegetables.
Even traditional roasted pork trotters may not be spared from the ad ban.
Dear rulers, again I like to reiterate that it is not just about banning the advertisements of these foods but advertising to parents to ban themselves of happily offering happy meals to their kids. The sad part, they are themselves not educated on the culinary culture here. And parents, childrearing is not about rearing their derriere, but also the mind and the whole body in a holistic, everything-also-can but in moderation approach. Even if you go totally vegetarian, be mindful too. Ever met fat vegetarians?