Thursday, 16 February 2012
Order of Business
Feargal Quinn (Independent)
I wish to thank everyone who contributed to last night's Private Members' debate on food. Senators raised a wide range of issues and I ask the Leader to keep in touch with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine on this issue. The latter has promised to forward to us the replies to questions in respect of which information was not available last evening. I compliment Senator Mullins on the congratulations he extended to the Minister.
I raise this matter again because yesterday I read an article on obesity and unhealthy and non-staple foods which indicates that a proposal has been put forward in the US to the effect that people should be prevented from using food stamps to purchase unhealthy foods. At present, these food stamps cannot be used to purchase alcohol or tobacco. In this country we pay people child benefit but we have no control over how that money is spent. In the United States they use the system of food stamps to which I refer and people cannot use their stamps to purchase tobacco or alcohol. We cannot control our system in such a way and I do not know whether we should be in a position to do so. However, it might be appropriate if we were to take some form of action in order that we might meet the challenge we face in the fight against obesity and unhealthy foods.