Health spokesman opens burger joint

Last updated 12:46 21/12/2012

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Burger King's latest store has been opened by Labour's associate health spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway, but he turned down the opportunity to sample its fare for himself.

Lees-Galloway opened Burger King's Rangitikei St store yesterday morning, the company's third in Palmerston North, but the city MP was quick to distance himself from advocating fast food by acknowledging his spokesman position and telling the small crowd he was "pleased to see another business opening in the Manawatu".

Burger King received 120 applications for 48 positions, working with Work and Income to source some of the workers.

Lees-Galloway was criticised earlier this month by Massey University nutritionist Jane Coad who expressed shock that an associate health spokesman would open a fast-food outlet.

Yesterday he described Burger King's food as "treat food" and he hoped the business would "get on board" with moves to give people the information they needed to make the "right" choices. "We all have to work together on this.

"Obesity has been on the rise over the last 30 to 40 years and what we're seeing is a much earlier onset.

"It's true it's possible to link that to the availability of high-fat, high-sugar, calorie-dense food. Those are treats basically, treats we should enjoy from time to time, and that's the kind of thing that you have on offer here. It's like alcohol, you can use it, misuse it, and abuse it."

He took the chance to criticise the Government for not adopting a "traffic light" food labelling system.

When asked about the recent spate of fast-food outlets opening in the city, he said it meant they had confidence our economy had enough demand for them. But he said he hoped they would be competing for market share rather than increasing the amount of fast food sold in the city. Palmerston North also serviced a bigger area than just the city.

Lees-Galloway said he would open any business that asked him and that it was a fairly standard thing for a local MP to do.

He did not take up the offer of a burger, saying he was careful about how often he and his children ate fast food. The last time he ate fast food was last week, after an eight-week interval.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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