National Food Strategy proposes an ambitious overhaul of the food system: Food Active response

National Food Strategy proposes an ambitious overhaul of the food system: Food Active response

Part 2 of the National Food Strategy has been published today, calling for a radical overhaul of the food system to improve the nation’s health, address inequalities and protect the environment.

Food Active Programme Lead, Nicola Calder, said:

“We welcome Henry Dimbleby’s bold and ambitious National Food Strategy, which lays out the fundamental changes our food systems needs to support everyone to access a diet that is affordable, good for our health and the environment.

Education and ‘willpower’ are simply not enough in the face of the current food system that favours less healthy food and drink over healthier options, which is why we support the recommendation on the Sugar and Salt tax. Lessons from the SDIL show us that taxation can catalyse industry to reformulate their products, rather than passing on the cost to the consumer. What will be key is ensuring the revenue is reinvested back into promoting good food and nutrition for those who need it most.

The pandemic means this is absolutely the right time to be implementing the recommendations made by Dimbleby and his team. In fact, there is no time to lose – we look forward in anticipation to the Government’s white paper, in response to the strategy.”

The strategy follows Part 1 of the Plan, published last summer in response to Covid-19, which included a series of recommendations that addressed the stark rise of food insecurity as a result of the pandemic.

The government-commissioned National Food Strategy Part 2, drawn up by the restaurateur Henry Dimbleby, says the UK population’s “malfunctioning” appetites and poor diets – fuelled by consumer and manufacturer’s reliance on processed food – place an unsustainable burden on the NHS and contribute to 64,000 deaths each year, costing the economy an estimated £74 billion.

The independent report, commissioned by the Government in 2019, calls for:

Escape the junk food cycle and protect the NHS

  • Introduce a Sugar and Salt Reformulation Tax. Use some of the revenue to help get fresh fruit and vegetables to low-income families.
  • Introduce mandatory reporting for large food companies.
  • Launch a new “Eat and Learn” initiative for schools.

Reduce diet-related inequality

  • Extend eligibility for free school meals.
  • Fund the Holiday Activities and Food programme for the next three years.
  • Expand the Healthy Start scheme.
  • Trial a “Community Eatwell” Programme, supporting those on low incomes to improve their diets.

Make the best use of our land

  • Guarantee the budget for agricultural payments until at least 2029 to help farmers transition to more sustainable land use.
  • Create a Rural Land Use Framework based on the three-compartment model.
  • Define minimum standards for trade, and a mechanism for protecting them.

Create a long-term shift in our food culture

  • Invest £1 billion in innovation to create a better food system
  • Create a National Food System Data programme.
  • Strengthen Government procurement rules to ensure that taxpayer money is spent on healthy and sustainable food. Recommendation 14 Set clear targets and bring in legislation for long-term change.

The Government has promised to respond formally with a White Paper within 6 months.

Read the full plan here. 


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