France’s new food chèque state aid measure should only be redeemable on “health, non-carcinogenic products,” a group of MPs affiliated to President Emmanuel Macron has said.
Some 55 députés from centre-right party MoDem (Mouvement démocrate), which forms part of the president’s Ensemble alliance, have stated in an open letter that the inflation tackling measure should also serve as “a historic opportunity to put a public health policy in place”.
“Inserm [France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research] has highlighted that an increase of 10% in the proportion of ultra-processed food in one’s diet is associated with an equivalent increase in the risk of developing cancer, and breast cancer in particular,” the group stated.
“In addition, it is people on lower incomes who consume the most junk food (frozen pizzas, nuggets, chocolate bars, spreads) which contain at least 10 different additives.”
The MoDem MPs claimed that a low-income family generally buys twice as much processed meat than a more affluent family.
They also stated that according to the World Health Organisation, these products are currently responsible for thousands of cases of “colorectal and stomach cancer because of the presence of nitrates, which manufacturers use as a preservative.”
The creation of a food cheque (chèque alimentaire) will be proposed in the government’s new bill on spending power, which will be presented to the Conseil des ministres (Cabinet) on June 29.
The MoDem group believes that the chèque could help to “invest more strongly in more sustainable production chains and processes, taking into account the warnings from scientists on the use of additives and on carcinogenic phytosanitary products.
“The food chèque could thus have three benefits: boost the spending power of French people who are struggling to buy food in the short term, bring down the price of quality products so that they become more accessible and give a structure to sustainable agricultural and food practices.”
The MoDem MPs added that they will now propose the subject for debate in Parliament.