Food guru slams government’s food policy

By Dan Colombini

- Last updated on GMT

TV chef Jamie Oliver said the Public Health Responsibility Deal was “worthless, regurgitated, rubbish”
TV chef Jamie Oliver said the Public Health Responsibility Deal was “worthless, regurgitated, rubbish”
UK food policy has taken a backward step under the coalition government, according to Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University, London.

Lang told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “There was a growth in policy in the 2000s and a broad vision that something was happening. Under the new government, things are happening but great tranches have been dropped.

“What is left cannot resolve the problems that we know exist and the state will have to respond.”

Under the coalition, responsibility for making healthier and easier choices is being moved to the food industry at local level. A key focus is the sometimes controversial Public Health Responsibility Deal, described by TV chef and campaigner Jamie Oliver as “worthless, regurgitated, rubbish”.

Voluntary cuts

The policy centres on urging people to eat and drink less and encourages the food industry to make voluntary cuts in the amount of calories used in their products.

As part of that shift, the government last month opted to abolish the panel of experts which advised ministers on obesity.

Lang, a former panel member, slammed the decision, accusing the government of “turning the policy clock back 10 years”.

The country needs a policy that successfully addresses issues such as climate change, public health, quality and that has good social values, said Lang.

We haven’t got that at the moment​,” he added. “There is a mismatch between what is currently happening and what we need to do. But the coalition is too busy cutting the state to pay for the banking crisis, which is outrageous.​”

Cross-government

Meanwhile, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said it was encouraged by the work government was doing with industry through the Green Food Project.

The project aims to look at how the industry can increase food production while enhancing the environment.

Despite this, Melanie Leach, FDF director general, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “I would not say that policy has gone backwards but it hasn’t moved forwards.

Leach said that since the coalition came to power in May last year it has not continued the work started by the previous government in its Food 2030 policy plans.

“Conversations are starting to happen but I think we are missing a cross-government food policy. We need clear direction from DEFRA to know which way we are heading,​” she added.

The government defended its food policy, however, and said the UK farming and food industry was a “key part of the economy​”.

A spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We’re working on a range of strategies to improve industry skills and boost exports in partnership with industry to help manufacturers become as competitive and resilient as possible and deliver sustainable growth.”

“More widely, the Government is striving to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.​”

Related topics: Business News, Fats & oils, Healthy foods

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1 comment

Taxes won't change things

Posted by Bob Salmon,

Taxes on foods are said to be unhealthy will not change eating habits. But they would disadvantage the low-paid and distort the market.

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