Food Labels: Better to educate than outlawThe indications that according to the European Union should guide consumption risk creating confusion and homogenization
We have been talking about it for several months, but the recurring risk of seeing the danger of finding ourselves all united by a uniform and unifying labeling of food products, accompanied by an inexorable judgment of their "value" into reality, would probably be, and indeed is , really too much. It has been said that a labeling of this kind should help consumers, guiding them, in choosing the products they intend to buy through the visual indication of a scale of no less than five colours, graduated from "green" (indicator of "good food"), to "red" (signaling a "bad" food), and passing through a lighter green color, yellow and orange.
Translating the speech into a nutshell: the European Union would like us to feed ourselves taking into consideration, as if we were robots, an unspecified score as the "derivative fruit" of an algorithm useful for attributing the right color to each food. Apart from the circumstance, certainly far from negligible, that it would really seem to be a question of a misleading and discriminatory, as well as incomplete, labeling system, as often pointed out by Coldiretti itself; aside, again, the circumstance that this system seems to be an unorthodox and in some way probably confusing way to exclude highly competitive and significant Italian food products from the market in terms of our much appreciated Mediterranean diet; everything aside, but it is really right to try to impose a certain food discipline on anyone, influencing the taste, pleasure and flavor of the final consumer, who finds himself effectively limited, and not a little, in a choice of taste only because in Europe, but indeed in a large part of the western world, would there be a high percentage of overweight subjects?
But will we or will we not be free to allow ourselves, at least at the table, those small daily pleasures, seemingly insignificant but necessary when we want to face an ever more demanding and absorbing everyday life? Before "banning" certain food products in any way from our tables, wouldn't it perhaps be more appropriate to take care to "educate" the potential final purchaser of the products in leading a healthy and complete diet which, without deprivation, but through the wise moderation of quantities of food to ingest, can learn the secrets of good nutrition?
If the risk to be avoided was obesity, the way would be through food education and not through the "cannibalization of products", and what products do we add. Basically, according to European science, almost all the "must" of the Mediterranean diet would be at risk. Unbelievable stuff. Also because, if this line were really passed, not only would the existing "differences" in terms of the production of food products in the various member countries of the Union be eliminated, but rather severe judgments and scores would be conferred on foods which, since unaccompanied by appropriate explanations, they could, especially at the time of exports, be erroneously perceived as incontrovertible assessments of the claimed wholesomeness or otherwise of the product. Paradoxically, Italy itself would run the serious risk of having merciless scores recognized for its foods of excellence. Wanting to think badly, and often we get it right as "Quel Famoso" said, it would seem (because we are on the level of pure argumentative hypotheses) almost a thought to legalize what in reality would seem to appear as almost a form of unfair competition useful for curb the commercial "extra-power" of our renowned products of excellence and known throughout the planet.
Let's be clear: learning to feed ourselves intelligently is necessary, but trying to ban foods that are notoriously valid and healthy in terms of nutrients from the tables would seem incorrect and misleading, especially where one would actually like to see us all homologated just to eliminate competition perceived as something uncomfortable by European potentates.
What, in particular, would be the useful scientific bases placed in support of such a merciless value judgment on Italian foods? What would happen to our renowned DOP and IGP? But do we or don't we have the sacrosanct right to protect them? How could Nutriscore ever be reconciled with the attribution assumptions of those denominations that are themselves a guarantee of excellence? Does Europe perhaps want to contradict itself? Years ago, this same Europe claimed to make us feel "united" in "diversity", assuring us that "unity" would never be understood as a banal "homologation". However, today, that motto appears in all its practical inconsistency: this is, or would claim to be, neither more nor less, than the Europe of good political governance (or at least that it should have been) completely ready, we would say, to inspire fair (with respect to whom?) and solidarity (with respect to what?) economic development. We ask ourselves: can one truly be united in differences? Because, even considering everything, and even not necessarily wanting to be malicious, the impression that one would seem to be able to portray also from this food question is that the intention of the European institutions necessarily wants to pursue a single and unique trajectory, apparently cultural , but in reality highly political, consisting of a homogenization circuit destined to overwhelm us all. Dissent from value is constantly downgraded to incapacity. But can this forced tendency towards instrumental and exploiting assimilation today constitute an essential element of government of peoples? Can the European structure really claim to support itself on the cancellation of diversity? Wouldn't it perhaps be better to continue to look at reality, admiring and enhancing its diversity, complexity and without trying to squeeze it into schemes, including nutritional ones, of a misleading ideological nature only to manage, limiting it, its flow and economic related activities? The answer is clearly consequential.
Put simply, one might almost ask oneself: what would be the point of our stay in a Europe that we would like to be united and supportive, if now, through the Nutriscore, we could even find ourselves deprived of the pleasures of the table? Always united in diversity, approved even if not. Let's protect our food excellence, if anything let's consume it by feeding ourselves judiciously to promote a healthy and complete diet, encouraging it by introducing a teaching program to this effect, perhaps in the context of school training. Educate and never deprive or worse ban. Of course it is more difficult, but certainly more correct.
Josephine Di Salvatore
(Lawyer – Nuoro)