Black Angus Baguette

Quoi?! More Burgers Than Baguettes in France?

France has one of the lowest obesity rates in the world. But it’s growing and the French parliament knows why. Le Big Mac. Burgers outsold baguettes for the first time ever in 2017. Burgers are on the menus in 85 percent of French restaurants. They sold 1.5 billion of them last year. So naturally, when the parliament issued a report last week, the villain was obvious. Fast and ultra-processed food.

Not Too Late

MP Michele Crouzet was one of the authors of this report. She told reporters:

By 2030 it’s estimated there will be at least 30 million obese and overweight people in France. This is a public health problem.

It’s not too late to stop us reaching that point and to save a healthy and sustainable diet.

Clearly, food is an essential element of the national identity in France and these politicians are on a mission to save it.

Limits on Sugar, Salt, Fat, and Additives

Making processed foods healthier is a key focus of the plan. It calls for limits on sugar, salt, and fat in these foods. The government should drastically cut back on allowable food additives, says the report. At present, 338 additives are allowable. The report calls for cutting that number to 48 – matching the limits for organic foods. Also, the number of additives in a single product will come down – only one color, one flavor, and one emulsifier per product.

MPs also want to limit advertising and misleading health claims for foods. The NutriScore nutrition label would become mandatory on all processed foods. Nutrition education and standards for schools would rise.

Naturally, the French food industry is not happy. The trade association ANIA released a statement saying it was “astonished by the overall tone” that “put the food industry on trial.”

Brace yourself. We can expect many waves of uncontrolled experiments aimed at taming the rise in obesity. France won’t be the only country giving this a go. Maybe something will stick. And maybe, objective scientists will find signals of real causes and effects.

Ready, fire, aim.

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Black Angus Baguette, photograph © Lachlan Hardy/ flickr

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October 2, 2018

2 Responses to “Quoi?! More Burgers Than Baguettes in France?”

  1. October 02, 2018 at 10:50 am, Chester Draws said:

    I’ve lived in France and this is a set-up.

    Given the amount of meat, cheese etc put into French commercial baguette sandwiches, the only difference is that burgers are heated.

    In fact burgers aren’t that bad for you. They’ve too much meat for some, but in themselves they’re not much of a worry. The fries and soft drink that often accompanies them are a worry, but this beat-up on burgers is stupid.

    As always, it’s about quantity.

    • October 02, 2018 at 12:42 pm, Ted said:

      I suspect you’re right, Chester. We put too much emphasis on the food and too little on the default patterns for consuming it. Food marketing plays a role. Culture plays a role.