People don’t like the government regulating their food and beverages choices, which is why proposals to tax sugar-sweetened beverages have repeatedly failed over the years. Well, it turns out that many elected officials aren’t so fond of the government regulating what they eat and drink either.
Take Vermont for example. The Burlington Free Press published a story this week on the negative reaction that many state representatives have had to new food and drink regulations in the Statehouse cafeteria. The new regulations say at least 50 percent of snacks should have no more than 200 calories per item, sodas should be limited to 12 ounces and whole milk has been eliminated.
As a result, favorite treats like “Peace Pops” from Vermont’s own Ben & Jerry’s have vanished, and some are worried that the Biggy Iggy, the local favorite cookie which many lawmakers grab as a snack to get them through a long session, may wind up on the government blacklist too.
“What a crock,” said Rep. Brian Savage, R-Swanton, the assistant House minority leader. “We’re all adults in this building. We know what’s good for us.”
Vermont House Speaker Shap Smith observed that he “didn’t mind dietary reminders, but restrictions would go too far.”
Exactly. Politicians don’t like being told what they can and can’t do and that’s no different than their constituents. They enjoy their Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and soft drinks just as much as anyone. And they feel they can decide for themselves what’s good for them. So isn’t it hypocritical that some politicians in Vermont want to hike prices on some beverages with a tax to make it harder for people to afford them? They say it’s for our own good, but can’t we decide that for ourselves?
As Shap said, providing people with information that they can use to choose what is right for them is the way to go, and our industry beverage companies support that approach. But in the end it should be up to individuals to decide what food and beverage choices are right for them.
Check out YourCartYourChoice.com to learn more about preserving consumer choice when it comes to what we eat and drink, and visit DeliveringChoices.org to learn how the industry is helping consumers choose the option that’s best for them.