Don’t let KFC Double Down remark cloud the real issues

Between midterms, essays, projects and everything else in between, it is inevitable that we, as students, indulge in a bit (or a lot) of fast food every so often. By now, you are probably familiar with the new “attraction” at KFC known as the Double Down – two pieces of bacon, two pieces of Monterey Jack cheese and Colonel’s sauce all sandwiched between two pieces of breaded chicken.

The Double Down comes equipped with 30 grams of fat and over 1,700 milligrams of sodium. That’s half the amount of fat you are supposed to consume in one day, along with more than the recommended daily sodium intake.

But why the uproar over the Double Down?

The Wendy’s Baconator – on the market since 2007 – has 610 calories (compared to 540 for the Double Down) and 2,260 milligrams of sodium. Burger King’s Triple Whopper has 1,250 calories and 1,110 milligrams of sodium.

And yet, it was the new KFC sandwich that prompted the Ontario health promotion minister to state that the government was reviewing its options to address the Double Down. This prompted fury from columnists, bloggers and Ontarians and led Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to confirm that there was not a “colonel of truth” to the rumours and that he was “doubled over” when he heard what Minister Best had said. (Yes, I believe those puns were intended and yes, I do think those quotes seem more like they came from an article by The Onion than a reputable Canadian news article).

This whole debacle also prompted Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak to rise to the defence of the Double Down, calling McGuinty “Premier Dad” and telling reporters that he couldn’t wait to try the sandwich. We’re still waiting for the photo-op on that one.

Hudak also looped these statements into the theme of McGuinty “micromanaging” Ontarians’ lives, comparing it to previous government decisions to phase out junk food in Ontario public schools and banning the breeding of pit bulls in the province.

Hudak is clearly attempting to connect the Double Down statements with the image of the nanny state that other commentators have created to describe the McGuinty government.

And why shouldn’t he? The comments — although clearly not representative of official government position— were out of line, and sounded politically arrogant. But, it’s unfortunate that such comments would be looped in with other accomplishments of the McGuinty government.

When made eloquently (which Minister Best did not), there is a good and convincing case to be made for a state that contributes to the collective good by making decisions in the collective interest.

Bans, for example, on smoking in cars with children are clearly meant to better the quality of society as a whole. Or heavy investing in the support of organic and local food programs that have a clear mandate of promoting healthy eating instead of directly managing what Ontarians put in their bodies.

We have to clearly strike the balance, however, with personal liberties. Collective interest only works when we buy into the principle that is at stake. And if you want to stuff your face with a Double Down every single day for the rest of your life, I, nor anyone else, should have the ability to stop you. Even if I am going to be among the throngs of taxpayers funding your quadruple bypass heart surgery in years to come.

Nutritional Facts

Breaking down the Double Down

540

Calories

30

Grams of fat

8.2

Grams of saturated fats

150

Milligrams of cholesterol

116%

Of an individual’s recommended daily intake of sodium

—Numbers courtesy of the government of Canada and the KFC website.

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