Mark Driscoll, head of the one planet food programme at WWF-UK, said: “The government has made some progress on tackling sustainable livestock production, but frankly its overall approach to tackling issues around what we eat has been woefully inadequate.
“The science is clear – we have to tackle both how we produce our food and what we eat if we want a future where both people and nature thrive.”
Driscoll told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the government needs to work with processors to help them cut the amount of meat wasted before food reaches consumers. This includes helping to improve the percentage or proportions of carcass utilisation.
Food supply chain
WWF also urged government to take the lead in helping food and drink manufacturers cut waste throughout the food supply chain.“There are many good industry-led initiatives addressing [waste in the food supply chain] already,” said Driscoll. "However, industry-led initiatives do not go far enough and the government needs to take the lead if sustainability is to be taken further.”
Also topping the campaign group’s wish list from government was a definition of a sustainable diet and integrating sustainability criteria into healthy eating advice.“The government must grasp the thistle and come up with a definition for a sustainable diet,” Driscoll said. “Without that definition, interested stakeholders cannot advance things much further.”
Driscoll urged government to offer practical guidelines about how eating habits should change to minimise environmental impacts. “In the WWF’s view, that would mean eating less volume but better quality of livestock and livestock products,” he told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
WWF acknowledged that British food and farming industries were reducing their environmental impacts through changes in technology and management practices. But, production efficiencies alone will not allow us to reach our greenhouse gas reduction targets, he said.
The WWF made the comments in response to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (DEFRA's) report, Progress Towards a Sustainable Future for Livestock Farming.
The government is running an online forum to gather views on food consumption and how it affects the environment. This is part of its Green Food Project – an initiative looking at how the UK can increase production while minimising environmental impacts.
DEFRA will produce a report summarising the views of the forum in June, said a spokeswoman.