Public Health England, PHE, has decided that McDonald’s Big Mac should no longer be legally available in England. At least, that’s the implication of their latest little foray into public policy making. At which point this is all going to get interesting, isn’t it? For while the prodnoses burble among themselves the rest of us get on with living life as we wish. But at some point their whinges start to impact upon what we ourselves can do in our own lives. Those reductions of salt and sugar in many foods are why so many of them taste of nothing. But then, again at some point, there will be a reaction to this. At some point, assuming we’re all still enamoured of even the smallest amount of liberty, we’ll tell them to go boil their heads, won’t we?
Entirely true, we wouldn’t, ourselves, go to the barricades for a Big Mac. Actually, we’d help jail people who did if we were promised we’d never have to eat one. But given that McDonald’s sells some billion of the things a year (apparently, 550 million in the US, double and why not for a global estimate?) there’re an awful lot of people who disagree with us. And we would go to the barricades for the right to a Big Mac even if not for the reality.
Thus this might be rather overstepping what we’ll allow PHE to do to us:[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] Calorie limits will be imposed on thousands of foods sold in supermarkets and restaurants in a bid to combat obesity. Draft proposals seen by The Telegraph set out detailed caps for ready meals, sandwiches and even portions of vegetables served across the country. The plans, drawn up by Public Health England (PHE), suggest a limit of 544 calories for any convenience meal – far below many of those sold today. Sandwiches and main meal salads would be capped at 550 calories, with a limit of 951 calories for restaurant main courses, and varying limits for other specific foods depending on where they are consumed. [/perfectpullquote]
Yes, of course, this is the most ghastly manifestation of the Planner’s Fallacy. That anyone sitting centrally can know how many calories there should be in specific forms of food. Why should a restaurant meal be able to have more than a convenience one? We’re allowed an extra slice of cheese on our burger if it’s served on a plate perhaps? Why? And the mere idea that anyone knows that the xx1 calorie limit is correct – it is to laugh. Some bansturbator pleasuring himself in an office in Whitehall knows what a fisherman in Fife should be eating to within 0.1% of the energy content? This is insanity.
As the guru on such matters, Chris Snowdon, has been pointing out:[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] In neither case was there any scientific justification for moving the goalposts. Similarly, PHE’s limits on how many calories should be in your lunch are wholly arbitrary. They are useful weapons for campaigners and regulators. Nothing more. But that is enough, and a study published in the British Medical Journal this week shows how these weapons will be deployed. The authors looked at the calorie count of meals in 27 restaurant chains and declared the results to be ‘shocking’. The average calorie count was 977. Only nine per cent of meals met what the authors describe as ‘public health recommendations for energy content’, ie. PHE’s arbitrary numbers. If that were not enough, they also found that 47 per cent of meals served contained an ‘excessive’ number of calories. What is excessive? The authors admit that ‘[n]o international guidelines make recommendations about energy consumption per meal’ and, since there is no definition of ‘excessive’, they made one up themselves [/perfectpullquote]
The entirety of all of this is being made up out of thin air. There simply is no rhyme, reason nor rationale for these limits other than that the Puritans get to tell us what to do. And do recall, the definition of a Puritan is someone with a lingering fear that someone, somewhere, might be enjoying themselves.
So, to these specific proposals. Convenience meals should contain, according to PHE, no more than 544 calories. Do take a moment just to savour that, it’s 544, not 543 or 545. How wise and omnisicient the bansturbators are! To be able to calculate our energy needs – our desires quite obviously aren’t being taken into account – to the accuracy level of 0.18%. No, not to 18%, to 0.18%, one calorie in 544. Sandwiches the same and a Big Mac is both a convenience food and a sandwich and thus will be covered by this. The problem being:[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]McDonald’s Big Mac/Energy Amount
That’s the Big Mac alone, before and without the fries and a drink. So, yes, PHE is demanding that the Big Mac be made illegal.
At which point really, yes, we should tell them to go boil their heads, shouldn’t we? We will revolt, storm the barricades, over the bansturbators trying to rule our lives to this level of detail. OK, maybe we don’t hang them all at Execution Dock but could we at least stop spending our own tax money upon them?
For think again through what is being proposed. A ban on a popular foodstuff. Not, as might be viable with a Big Mac, upon the grounds of taste, but because we the proles out here are getting too much food too cheap. We’re being offered a bargain and that would just never do, would it? Why, we might even be having fun!