All good anti-corporate campaigns have former, supposedly “reformed” industry insiders claiming that they saw treason and plot in their former, highly compensated jobs. The crusade to classify food as just a bit worse than crack cocaine or something follows this pattern: a former Kraft executive who also served as one of Michael Moss’s sources for his recent book that promoted the bogus theory of “food addiction”, Michael Mudd, recently took to the New York Times op-ed pages to pen a classic of the food-scolding genre. He says — perhaps since he’s already made his money — that it’s time to “force ethics on the food industry” and have Big Government on your dinner plate.
But hold on, how is Big Government on my dinner plate if the point is to force “industry” to change? Simple — Mudd’s prescription for the nation’s ills isn’t a novel program at all, but rather the same old story. Mudd wants fat taxes — unlike Kelly Brownell, at least Mudd is honest and admits he’d levy against “snack foods, candy, [and] sweet baked goods” in addition to soft drinks — in addition to constitutionally questionable marketing regulations that probably won’t work (as experiences in Quebec and Sweden should indicate).
It’s rich (pardon the pun) for a former senior industry executive who happily cashed Kraft paychecks for years and years to demand that the nation — and not he — do penance for what he now thinks are his sins. And as we noted in our recent report on soda taxes and regulations, the food taxes Mudd endorses don’t fall on fat-cats: They fall on hardworking people feeding their families. Even Kelly Brownell’s colleagues at food tax central, the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, concede as much.
As for personal responsibility, Mudd considers it not at all. Instead of noting as others have that improving the availability of healthy options can enable people to make better choices, he dismisses them as whitewashing. Thus the field for taking away choices is set. That sounds like a recipe for an unappetizing, carrot-juice house future, which only a secular Puritan like Michael Jacobson would love.