Free Regulation In The Food Industry Essay Example
Regulations refer to laws, policies and standards that have been put forth to guide the production criteria and ways through which companies sell their products to consumers. Different industries have different regulations depending on the kind of business they operate. The food industry is one of the industries that produce products that are directly purchased and used by consumers (Institute of Medicine). There have been many cases relating bad health to the kinds of food that people take. For instance, obesity is one of the health conditions that have been linked to eating junk foods. This has led to an outcry that the food industry should be regulated to manufacture products that promote good health and do not affect it negatively. Most of the foods that have been predicted to affect health in a negative way are junk foods, foods with high levels of cholesterol foods with high acidic levels and foods that promote bad eating habits such as addiction to fast foods. Individuals always wish to satisfy their desires by taking foods that give them pleasure frequently (Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz & John, pp 663 2012). There are two types of regulations; government initiated regulations and industry self-regulations. Government regulations do not have jurisdiction over the production of junk foods. In fact, banning the production of junk foods is one way of ‘hurting’ the economy (Sharma, et al., 2010). Hence, self-regulation remains as the best possible way of reducing the negative effects of taking such foods. However, to which level or extent should firms in the food industry practice self-regulation? The point is that, the food industry should not be regulated. The priority should be given to the need for consumers to consume foods that do not affect their health in a negative way (Institute of Medicine). The consumers’ choice and free markets should guide the consumption of products from the food industry. In this respect, this paper explains why self-regulation in the food industry should not be encouraged. The standards to be used should be those provided by the government and those guiding the food industry worldwide only. To arrive at conclusions, statistical analysis was used in relation to the topic of discussion. First and foremost, food industry regulation will be a great health failure if some of the leading food producers fail to participate or uphold the need for self-regulation. Notably, leading firms in the industry cannot compromise their sales and profit margins due to the need to self-regulate. This implies that, there will be a state of imbalance in the industry that is not good for a healthy and competitive environment (Simon, 2006). Individuals have choices that are defined by their rights and freedoms. The society is made up of these individuals. Hence, it would be illogical to purport that the good of the society will be served when the food industry is regulated. When individuals make the right choices, then it represents the choices that the society has chosen. With proper education and awareness of the kinds of foods that companies produce, then individuals are bound to make correct choices (Sharma, et al., 2010). Significantly, if small food companies are to self-regulate the production of foods by say, reducing the amount of sugar content in a cake and at the same time a larger company maintains its sugar levels, then for a rational consumer it totally depends on their discretion and decision to decide the type of cake is good for their health (Institute of Medicine). At a glance, in a situation, there will be an imbalance in the industry. It destroys a health business environment. However, if industries are left to produce foodstuff that is within the required standards, then it would be appropriate to state that it upon the individuals to decide what is best for a healthier generation (Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz & John, pp 670, 2012).
Another aspect that could be compromised with regulations in the food industry is the credibility and transparency (Simon, 2006). Notably, a company can uphold self-regulation on paper but not in practice just to safeguard sales volumes and profit margins. In such a scenario, credibility is highly affected, and there lacks a system where the firm’s practices are transparent. Without an objective scientific input, there are no means through which the products of food industries can be evaluated for consumption (Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz & John, pp 675, 2012). Hence, self-regulation becomes bogus and lacks meaning. However, without self-regulation, firms produce their foodstuffs within the required laws and standards leaving the choice of consumption in the hands of a consumer. Consumers are always rational. The rationality principle should always apply in all situations. Hence, assuming that one could purchase what is unhealthy for him/her is not logic. For all food products, the types of ingredients used in the production process are usually labeled on the packaging. If at all one understands that high-fat levels are unhealthy, they should refrain from purchasing foods with high fat levels (Sharma, et al., 2010). The healthier an individual is, the healthier the society; based on the notion of making correct choices when it comes to consumption of foodstuff. In general, allowing companies to self-regulate is indirectly giving them a license to continue producing unhealthy foods under the cover of self-regulation. If at all one believes that a society’s good is better than an individual’s good, it is fundamental that self-regulation be discouraged. This is because; the standards that have been put forth do not apply globally ((Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz & John, pp 667, 2012)). The world is a larger society than the mere notion of a single country or region on the planet. If the standards apply in a certain country and fail to apply in other countries, then the notion of caring for the larger society becomes invalid. While some citizens in country A may be subject to consuming less fatty foods and hence promoting their health, others in country B might be consuming the same fatty foods unaware of the consequences. This implies that consumers should decide to choose what to eat and not what to eat. One may argue that children are not able to make the right choices when it comes to choosing the right foodstuffs. However, children are human beings; they can be taught about the dangers of taking certain foods (Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz & John, pp 664, 2012). They can live by this by consuming less of such products or entirely taking none of it. Further, parents always have a choice of the kinds of food they bring home. A parent who keeps on feeding his/her children on junk foods is always to blame and not the company (Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz & John, pp 661, 2012). Apart from practicing CSR, each and every company is dedicated towards its fiscal obligations of improving sales and profit margins (Simon, 2006). Hence, firms should only be obligated to provide information on the ingredients used in producing foodstuffs, advertising and after that leave the choice of consumption in the hands of the consumers. Lastly, as much as there can be standards to guide practice, there lack criteria to determine the effectiveness on different kinds of foodstuffs. For instance, the standards of producing cakes and doughnuts cannot be the same in producing French fries, sausages and hamburgers (Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz & John, pp 661, 2012). Thus, there can be weak standards in one case or the other. This would encourage practicing harmful business operations (Simon, 2006). In the first place, the first person to be affected by the harmful practices is the consumer. This brings back the question of individual decisions in consumption. In essence, as much as there are regulations to guide production of food-stuffs, it is still an individual’s discretion to decide what to consume (Sharma, et al., 2010). For this reason, there should be not regulation to guide production in the food industry apart from the standards recognized worldwide as appropriate. Consumers should be left to decide to consume what they think is good for their health.
Lunsford, A. Andrea, Ruszkiewicz, J, John & Walters, Keith. Everything’s’ an Argument: Why worry about Food and Water? Boston-New York: Bedford/St. Martins. 2012.
Sharma, L. Lisa, et al. The Food Industry and Self-Regulation: Standards to Promote Success and to Avoid Public Health Failures. February, 2010. NCBI. Web. Accessed on 12th February 2015.
Simon, M. Chris. Can Food Companies be trusted to Self-Regulate? An Analysis of Corporate Lobbying and Deception to Undermine Children’s Health. Loyola Los Angeles Review, 2006.