Squeezing Out The Juice

19 Mar 2007

‘Thanks!’ Do you remember that TV ad? Those people who had just done their shopping, holding yellow bags and being thanked by passers-by. What was in those bags? Dioxin contaminated chicken, meat with hormones, GMO cereals, vegetables containing pesticide residues? It didn’t matter, they had made their purchases, kept the economy moving and society was grateful to them.

This seems to be the logic guiding the actions of the European Union. Do people think that our European leaders should be looking after the wellbeing of the Community, understood as the sum of civil societies? That is a mistaken belief. Our rulers have to look after the market, understood as economic activity focusing on buying and selling.

There is no other way you can explain the Community Bill 2007 which, among many other issues, also deals with soft drinks. The bill amends legislation dating back to 1961 which required that non-alcoholic fruit flavored drinks had to have at least 12% fruit juice. That’s right just 12%, not 99% or anything. Well, now we can do without that 12%.

It is not even necessary to do anything to avoid misleading the consumer: a soft drink may be orange, it can call itself orange drink or ‘orangewhatever’, it can have a picture of an orange on the label. And it might not even contain a single drop of orange juice. We will have bottles and cans (which will certainly not cost less than they do now) with water, sugar, colorants, carbon dioxide and synthetic flavoring.

My love, are you thirsty? Have a drink: not a single vitamin will enter your young body, but in compensation you will be taking complex sugars you don’t need, they will rot your teeth, change the pH of your mucous membranes, maybe affect your pancreas and set you on course to becoming diabetic and obese. Never mind the potentially carcinogenic synthetic flavoring and coloring agents.

But there’s no need to worry: the European Parliament has passed a law on adding vitamins and mineral salts to food and our Ministry of Health has drawn up a strategy called ‘Get healthy’ aiming to ‘prevent and control chronic diseases’. Our Ministers have given it the green light. The only thing is that they have also passed the legislation on soft drinks. Soft drinks … maybe to call them that is going a bit too far. But at least we can buy, sell and put them in a bag. Thanks a million!

First printed in La Stampa on March 5, 2007

Adapted by Ronnie Richards

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