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Big changes needed to make diets sustainable: report

Sustainable Diets | Foodfacts.com

Sustainable Diets | Foodfacts.com

Our Foodfacts.com Blog editorial research on food sustainability indicates that there is an interesting tidbit: reducing meat and dairy consumption, eating fewer fatty and sugary foods, and wasting less food are the three changes to consumption habits that will have the biggest impact on making diets more sustainable, according to a new report.

The Sustainable Consumption Commission was asked by the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food, Rural Affairs to map out evidence on sustainable diets and look at synergies and tensions between public health, the environment, social inequalities, and economic stability.

It points out that no one, universal definition of a sustainable diet exists, but that this must be addressed for the British government to meet its goal of a sustainable, secure and healthy food supply. Until now, the healthy eating element has been center stage. For Americans, the parallels are obvious, and well worth watching. We intend to do that.

Meanwhile, commissioners recognize that their findings will have an impact on food production and the food chain in the UK, but details of the consequences fall outside its scope. However calls from other quarters to radically chance eating habits have met with stiff resistance.

Media reports that climate expert Lord Stern was encouraging people to eat less meat in October stirred up fierce debate in the pages of newspapers and online about the role of meat in the modern diet.

The food industry has made much publicity of efforts to improve the health profile of many food products, with reduced levels of salt, sugar and fat. But snack foods, which are often products that make the least nutritional contribution to overall diets, can also be best-sellers and contribute greatly to manufacturers’ revenues.

The food sector’s initial response to the new report, called Setting the Table, has been temperate.

Julian Hunt, director of communications at the Food and Drink Federation, said: “The food and drink manufacturing industry is a strategically important sector, critical to the future success of the UK food chain and it’s important that sustainability remains high on our priority list.”

However, he focused mostly on the waste element of the report.

“No one likes waste and that’s why the food and drink manufacturing sector is playing a leadership role in shaping the future of sustainable food production. Our Five-fold Environmental Ambition, which is now in its third year, is central to our activity in the waste reduction arena and we’ll continue to build on our successes so far.”

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