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Health Ministry bully-boy civil servants trashed as public health minister asserts private responsibility

sweets shelvesA report in the Telegraph tells us that “Department of Health officials have been discussing plans for a new industry code, including a ban on ‘guilt lanes’.” ‘Guilt Lanes’ is one of those catchphrases used to demonize things by damning them with a name that arouses opposition. ‘Frankenfoods’ was another, and ‘Climate deniers’ is calculated to equate skeptics with apologists for death camps. It is appalling that civil servants should use such denigrating terms and be actively planning to tell supermarkets how they must organize their shelves.

Fortunately one minister has shown some sense. Anna Soubry, public health minister, has accused critics of ‘guilt lanes’ as “talking nonsense” and said she was unaware of the reported discussions. “We talk about all sorts of things,” she added. Although she has previously criticized supermarkets for arranging confectionary next to checkouts, she says that there is nothing wrong with sweets and she knows when to say “no” to her own children. She had better keep a close watch on her officials, though, for the report goes on to tell us that:

Under a new industry code of practice being drawn up by the Department of Health, stores will be urged to put an end to cheap deals on fatty products, stop funnelling shoppers past rows of unhealthy foods, and spend a fixed amount from their marketing budgets on lower-calorie foods.

Health Department civil servants want to micro-manage what we eat and how we live. Anna Soubry should use her ministerial powers to identify the bureaucrats in her department who have this mindset and do us all a favour by having them fired.

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