‘Ban’ on global fast foods
MANSFIELD’S medical fraternity have banded together to support the biggest petition recorded in Mansfield calling for a ban on global fast food franchises moving into town.
In a full page advertisement on page 7 of today’s Courier, outlined are the many reasons why Mansfield should not be the centre of the fast food mega outlets being established.
Healthy eating and the push to reduce obesity - particularly among our younger generation - are the main reasons for this move.
A petition which has been circulating throughout the shire for the past few months has now gained more than 4000 signatures and is expected to be presented to Mansfield Shire Council in the near future.
Spokesperson for the doctors’ side of the argument is Dr Will Twycross.
“The thing that really worries me is the way these firms advertise their harmful products to children,” Dr Twycross said.
“They often come with toys, and are high in calories, fats and salt, and the last time I looked at an analysis for, say, a “Happy Meal”, the vitamin count was zero.
“That is almost unbelievable, but it’s a measure of how ultra-processed these foods are,” he said.
“I believe the issue of the harm caused by ultra-processed foods is at the same place as the tobacco argument was 20 years ago.
“We are just twigging onto how harmful this industry is, and as we eventually did for tobacco, now we can prove it.
“Some people say... but these companies employ people.
“Well, so do our current food outlets, many of whom would suffer if a large transnational fast food outlet opened up in town.”
Dr Twycross said the unhealthy eating aspect of fast foods such as McDonald’s was the main basis of the objections and not the possibility of employment opportunities for local residents.
“We need to put things into the shire planning scheme to stop this type of fast food outlet being established - not just McDoanld’s but the likes of KFC and Hungry Jacks as well,” Dr Twycross said.
He said that the doctors did not consider the current Subway store as a threat to healthy eating, but just as another ‘shop front’.
On enquiring with the council as to whether an application for a McDonald’s store had been received, the answer was no.
“While our t own’s medical ‘caped crusaders’ should be free to take out an advertisement describing the health problems associated with fast food; an attempt to ban an outlet is another matter entirely, as it is the first step down a long and slippery path in which one group of society tries to impose its values on another,” Mansfield Shire councillor Russ Bate said.
“Fortunately there is no known move by McDonald’s to move into Mansfield and why this persistent rumor continues is beyond me.
“I am not a Macca’s fan nor do I have any pecuniary interest in them; I far prefer KFC and Subway.
“My fundamental issue, personal only, is a basic objection to the woolly logic that suggests that fast food from a multi-national is any less healthy than the fried dim sims or potato cakes I occasionally enjoy in several of the town’s take-aways.
“While on the subject of multinational fast food organisations I noted no such complaints or moves against Subway.”
Cr Bate said he would question the doctors as to when they intended to take action on the other fast food outlets in the main street?
In recent times, the township of Tecoma in the Dandenong Ranges protested against an application by McDonald’s to redevelop a main street site - already occupied by a restaurant and take away - into a more modern restaurant.
While Yarra Ranges Shire Council rejected the application after much publicity and protests, a Victorian Civil and Administrat ive Tribunal ( VCAT) hearing overturned that council’s decision and allowed the restaurant to move ahead.
The findings were based on planning issues and not on whether the food was healthy or not.
VCAT presiding member G Rundell in listing his findings included “The grounds relied upon by residents include a global fast food company would be inconsistent with the tourism ‘offer’ or ‘brand’ of the Dandenong Ranges..... The proposal would cause a wide range of adverse offsite impacts including noise, illumination from the advertising, litter, food preparation odors, antisocial behaviors and public safety, adverse impacts on health, and adverse impacts on native fauna...”
Mr Rundell continued “The responsible authority and residents directed us to consider clause 10.04 of the Scheme that generally requires the responsible authority to balance competing objectives in favor of net community benefit and sustainable development. They considered that the proposal has adverse outcomes that would outweigh its benefits.”
But in his findings Mr Rundell said “We have to apply the Scheme as we find it. The matters that are before us include activation of the Tecoma activity centre as encouraged by policy, integration with the streetscape, building design, landscaping and traffic and parking. We are satisfied that this proposal complies with the Scheme. In general, it provides local employment opportunities, supports tourism and broadens the business mix in the centre, as encouraged by policy.”
In Mansfield residents will have to weigh up the issues of health, tourism, employment and economics and the values of attracting more people to stop in town with the possible introduction of global fast food outlets - if and when that happens.
EATING HEALTHY: Dr Will Twycross along with Mansfield’s medical fraternity are pushing to have local council planning laws changed to stop global fast food chains entering the town.