Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Obama is bad for Indonesians' health

In the same week that Obama unveils his plans to revolutionise America's ailing healthcare system, the health of Indonesian people is being threatened by Obama, in a different way.

We Indonesians are big Barack Obama fans. Given that the US president spent 4 years of his early childhood in Jakarta, we could almost consider him the first Indonesian president of the USA. Hey, considering most of Indonesia’s leaders have been corrupt, megalomaniacs or incompetent, you can see why we’d love to claim someone as widely respected as Obama.

So what better way to honour someone of his stature, than by naming junk food after him? Yes, “Obama Snacks” have hit the streets in the West Javanese provincial capital of Bandung, and are garnering attention worldwide, but for the wrong reasons.

The Indonesian Consumer Foundation has called for the withdrawal and ban of the snacks, based on potential risks to consumers. The snack packet, which displays a caricature of Obama making a peace sign with his right hand while spinning the globe on a finger with his left hand, does not however display details about its manufacturer, and carries no registration number, meaning that consumers will not have any idea about the origins of the product.

(Rather like Obama himself, I can almost hear the right-wing pundits saying…)

The packet also contains a small plastic toy which not only increases the risk of toxic contamination but also may be mistaken for food by small children, as the toy is not separately wrapped. So beneath Obama’s benevolent exterior and initial pleasant taste, lurks a potential threat to our young. The right-wingers must be having a field day with this.

The product is also problematic as the packaging also does not display any use-by-date (because Obama is forever, baby! Score one back for the left.)

It is also illegal in Indonesia for a product to bear the image of a state leader, or to have labelling and packaging that is irrelevant to the product itself. So the future of this product does not look good.

You'll be happy to know though that the packaging describes it as an "Anti-Terrorist" snack - perhaps it can be used to fatten up suicide bombers so they can't fit into their exploding belts?

No reports yet on the flavour or nutritional value of Obama Snacks, although I’m sure they are bad for your health. They look kinda like Cheetos in the video. I hope one of my relatives over there will grab me a couple of packets before they get pulled from the market. One of them I plan to sell on eBay – surely someone will be willing to pay top dollar for this novelty item – and the other I just want to taste. I’ll be careful not to eat the plastic toy though.

You can watch a news report on it here, but it helps if you speak Indonesian.

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