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IELTS Writing – Task 2, Example 10

Shops should not be allowed to sell any food or drink that have been scientifically proved to have bad effects on people’s health. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

There is an English adage that says ‘you are what you eat’ which, if true, means modern supermarkets and convenience stores are filled with items trying to ruin us. Squeezy cheese, tater tots, ‘mechanically disjointed chicken’, and countless other items cannot be good for the human body. Whilst an outright ban on all ‘unhealthy’ food would be impossible – the body does, after all, still require sugars and fats – removing low-quality food would be a step in the right direction.

In an ideal world I would like to see improvements in diet achieved through education and good policies rather than banning and restricting choice. Subsidies to farmers producing natural produce might help; classes in schools and campaigns teaching good cooking habits and highlighting the awful ingredients of ‘junk’ food would also be beneficial. Yet perhaps this is idealistic and sooner or later the carrot needs supplemented by the stick.

One option is to, rather than ban food products, tackle the particular additives and chemicals added to food. MSG has been banned from food production in restaurants in many countries; various ‘E-number’ additives have also been outlawed. On top of this, those who choose to taint and lace foods have been given strong jail sentences. The notion that it is right to chemically manipulate food needs overturned.

Consumers also need a kick in the right direction. This could be done in a manner akin to the plastic bag tax because many consumers only begin to think about an issue once it affects them financially. If consumer demand can be shifted then trends change (as can be seen in the drop in teenage tobacco usage in countries levying high taxes on cigarettes). This may already be happening as some countries are currently debating a ‘sugar tax’.

To summarise, I disagree with a ban on unhealthy food products because it is impossible to govern and the best societies, generally, maintain personal freedoms as best they can, only removing that which potentially fatally interferes in the safety of others. That said, a way needs to be found to encourage food suppliers and retailers to forego cheap chemical-laden food and return to more wholesome produce. A multi-pronged approach targeting customers, producers and ingredients may be the best solution.

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