Fluorescent tomato sauce for the pies sold at the SCG this week would have been a great promotion for both Heinz and the Jane McGrath Foundation.
However, in mid year when the sauce for my McDondald’s fries was fluro pink - it was cause for real concern. On inspection, the packaging on the faulty product read “Heinz, manufactured in Qingdao”. You may remember Qingdao as the coastal city engulfed in fluro green seaweed prior to the China Olympic Yachting events.
I have visited Qingdao several times as my brother teaches at a Qingdao University. Whilst the area is less polluted than other areas of China, the tomato farms are small and fragmented compared to their Australian counterparts. As such, quality control of herbicides, pesticides and fertiliser would be almost impossible. Whilst Qingdao factories, although not old, operate without the environmental, labour and consumer protection laws that exist in Australia.
I did live in hope that we wouldn’t go the way of US schools, but I guess it was always going to be a bit difficult to resist. News that “leading educators” (are these official titles?) are willing to back sponsorship of schools by food companies such as McDonalds, and other commercial brands, puts children at more risk than simply being exposed to what Institute of Public Affairs executive director John Roskam says will be “five minutes of advertising a day”.
Of course, numeracy and literacy programs are critical, but at what cost?