Corporate Shame


When I heard the news story about Volkswagen and its ‘defeater’ system designed to cheat US emission testing, I thought I must have misunderstood it. Directors and managers have a duty to maximise shareholders’ profits, but Google’s motto “Don’t be evil” attracts laughter because it’s just too obvious to require formal expression. In any case, the damage that discovery of an offence like VW’s is bound to wreak upon the company would surely be so great as to deter any board from allowing it.

But cast your mind back. Remember the revelations about LIBOR fixing by major banks? Remember Goldman Sachs’ complicity in Greece’s fraudulent entry into the Euro Zone? Remember the tobacco industry’s persistent denial of the harm for which its products were responsible? The list is much longer than this. I invite you to add your own recollections.

Now allegations are being made about similar malpractices by the sugar industry. It’s too early to use words like “crime” or “criminal”, and perhaps in the strict legal sense no crimes have been committed. But there is plenty of evidence that the food manufacturing industry as a whole has a pretty casual attitude to its customers’ wellbeing.

My first ever post was about dieting. I wrote about Mrs SG’s success with the 5+2 diet and I offered 8 rules to follow for a healthy diet compatible with a modern lifestyle. Here they are again. Numbers 6, 7 and 8 will not make me popular with the food industry:

  1. Consume 1,100-1,300kcal/day normally, but no more than 500kcal on 2 days per week (the ‘fasting days’).
  2. 1,300kcal/day is less than the normal maintenance level for an adult, and it may be exceeded on special days when we entertain guests or go out to eat.
  3. Consume 30-50 grams of protein every day, including the fasting days.
  4. Every day consume less sugar than protein.
  5. Eat small amounts of a wide variety of things.
  6. Don’t buy anything without reading the nutritional data and comparing with other products.
  7. Always eat unprocessed food in preference to processed.
  8. Prepare meals in your own kitchen as much as possible. You don’t know what’s in a restaurant or take-away meal.

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