‘Ban’ on global fast foods

Mansfield Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By PAM ZIERK-MAHONEY

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.

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