EFRA Committee report ‘disappointingly weak’

By : Eating Better
Jan 22, 2015

A Committee of MPs inquiry into food security and consumption says national and local government, civil society organisations and particularly supermarkets must do more to help people make healthier and more sustainable food choices.

But the main recommendations of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee are limited to encouraging people to buy more British food and think more about their health. And the Committee falls short of recognising the importance of shifting our food culture and eating patterns towards more plant-based eating with less and better meat for health and the health of the planet. 

It also fails to recognise that successful behaviour change requires more than better consumer information, advice and food labelling, to include a suite of interventions to help make healthy and sustainable choices the easy choices.

The Committee’s recommendations are disappointingly weak. There is now strong evidence for a more interventionist approach to tackle the big challenges of unhealthy and unsustainable food consumption, yet the policy recommendations from the Committee are weak. Simply encouraging the public to buy British and think more about the impact of their food choices on health is insufficient to address the major challenges of unhealthy and unsustainable food supply. This is a missed opportunity,” says Sue Dibb, Eating Better Coordinator.

In Eating Better's submission to the Committee, we recommended governments develop policies and practices to support a transition to healthy and sustainable diets with less and better meat consumption including: 

-   Updating the EatWell plate to provide new official guidelines on healthy and sustainable eating to include the benefits of eating less and better meat.

-   Introducing clear and mandatory procurement standards for schools, hospitals, prisons, care homes and all government departments that reflect environmental (eg carbon reduction commitments) and health factors, to include less and better (including higher welfare) meat. 

Neither of these recommendations appear to have been considered by the Committee.

The Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee published its latest report Food Security: Demand, Consumption and Waste on 22 January 2015. This is the second part of its Inquiry into Food Security – the first on food production was published in July – see our report here.

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