Blog: Fat tax aficionado faces Oak Brook poet

Catherine Sleep | 18 June 2004

Advocacy groups having retreated less than gracefully from this week’s CIES retail summit in Rome, the spats and squabbles shifted seamlessly to the speaker’s podium. Never a dull moment, I assure you.

Scenes that will long stick in the mind include vociferous fat tax advocate Marion Nestle innocently asking McDonald’s Ventures MD Mats Lederhausen why, if a customer ventures under the golden arches with US$5 in his hand, he can buy either five hamburgers or just one much-publicised salad. Hmm… why indeed? Even subsidies don’t explain that differential, do they?

Nestle tickled delegates by showing slides of foods marketed with dubious yet nevertheless FDA-approved health claims such as St. John’s Wort tortilla chips and Zero-carb, zero-fat vodka. No chuckles from the manufacturers of said gems, naturally.

Although largely coherent, entertaining and convincing, Lederhausen at times revealed an extraordinarily philosophical side, of which he was clearly quite proud. His opening gambit was “Humility opens doors; arrogance closes them”, but he soon took this to a higher level, explaining to bemused delegates that “the abdication of personal responsibility is the genesis of despair”. He peaked with the esoteric homily: “life is about our journey within; our dreams, not our memories”.

Is this the Eric Cantona of the food industry?


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