Richard Evans, FDF president, used his address at the FDF President’s Dinner on Wednesday (April 30) to mount a stout defence of food scientists and nutritionists, who he claimed had suffered from poor reporting in the national media of scientific studies on topics such as sugar and obesity.
“We need to stand up for science and scientists,” said Evans. “Since the turn of this year, it’s been with quite a lot of unease I have watched the media, as it has been compelled to pit one thread of scientific opinion against industry rather than properly debating the science.”
Evans went on to attack campaign groups which focused on personalities rather than scientific evidence. “What has been actually worse, is that we have seen prominent figures from all the value disciplines seeking to do down the professional records of our world beating nutritional scientists.
‘That is a disgrace’
“That is a disgrace and it has to stop. With the painstaking carbohydrate review shortly to be completed by SACN [The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition], it is high time that the leaders of campaign groups such as Action on Sugar played the ball not the man.”
In a wide-ranging speech Evans also suggested the launch of a food and drink industry body – similar to the Automotive Council – to give the sector a stronger voice with government.
Evans was speaking at the Dorchester Hotel in London.
Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of Consensus Action on Salt and Health and Action on Sugar, hit back at the FDF president’s comments about his organisation.
‘Opposed it for years’
“This is typical of the Food and Drink Federation,” he told FoodManufacture.co.uk. “When we first started our very successful salt reduction campaign in the UK in the late 1990s, the FDF unfortunately opposed it for years. It is the same now for sugar.
“It’s sad to see some negative comments on sugar when the FDF could be leading the world and helping their members produce more healthy and better quality foods – in terms of reduced salt, sugar and fats.”
The long awaited SACN report is due to be published in the early summer.
Meanwhile, the Food Manufacture Group, in association with the Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST), is staging a free, one-hour webinar dedicated to separating the myths from the realities about sugar and Britain’s national obesity crisis.
To reserve your free place at the online seminar, which will feature contributions from prominent industry experts, at 11am on Thursday July 3, email Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org. More details of this event will follow later this month.