4 Improving Behaviour |
50. There is a clear need for people to eat food
that impacts less on the environment, both in the UK and beyond.
At the same time there is a need for more people to eat healthier
diets. In 2007 the Food Standards Agencies' Low Income Diet
and Nutrition Survey found that general nutrition levels in
the UK were poor, particularly for people on low incomes.
The 2010 Marmot Review, Fair Society, Healthy Lives, illustrated
a continuing inequality divide.
The Department of Health's Healthy Lives, Healthy People
noted that more than 60% of adults and a third of 10 and 11 year
olds are overweight or obese.
WWF and the Rowett Institute recently published the Livewell
report, which formulated a 'sustainable diet'. They calculated
the costs of the 'livewell' diet and a standard basket of food,
based on the Government's own statistics, and found the Livewell
basket was cheaper.
They found, nevertheless, that people were eating too much processed
food and meat and not enough plant-based products and carbohydrates.
They concluded that this needed to be addressed urgently, no matter
how much this felt like "nanny stateism".
51. In many cases, reducing environmental impacts
and getting people to eat more healthily can be achieved in tandem.
The Food Ethics Council argued that a shift away from a diet rich
in animal products, particularly meat, and towards a diet with
more cereals and vegetables, would be beneficial for both health
and the environment. An overall reduction in food consumption
and a reduction in food waste could play a major part in achieving
a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the food chain.
They saw Government having a major part to play in supporting
changes in food production and marketing, including pricing and
promotion strategies, so that consumers are encouraged to select
foods which are associated with lower emissions, which benefit
their health and which are affordable. This was particularly important
given some confusing messages on diet that consumers still face:
The government needs to continue to promote and communicate
the messages on healthy eating to consumers, as many are confused
by conflicting messages, e.g. on the benefits of low carbohydrate,
high protein diets which are widely used for promoting weight
loss but are often confused with messages about general healthy
eating which involves lower consumption of meat and higher consumption
of fruit, vegetables and starchy carbohydrates.
The Foresight project saw a need for campaigns to
change individual behaviour involving public education, advertising,
targeted programmes in schools and workplaces, and the provision
of better labelling to enable the public to make more informed
52. Many of our witnesses argued that food labelling
needed to be utilised as a tool to encourage consumers to make
Opinions varied about how this should be done, in the light of
the risks of confusing consumers with complicated schemes. For
example, the Rural Economies and Land Use programme noted that
'water footprint' did not currently lend itself to a simple labelling
scheme. Which? told us that few people were aware of the debates
taking place around the future of the food system or understand
the actions needed to reduce the impact of what they eat.
Research suggested, however, that many people would be motivated
to make more sustainable, lower impact food choices if these were
made easy for them. Seven out of ten people interviewed by Which?
would have paid more attention to the environmental impact of
the foods they bought if labels were clearer.
has a vital role to play in advising consumers on the environmental
and health benefits of eating well, by ensuring that they have
clear and easily-understood information. The sustainability of
food, however, is a multifaceted concept, as we have described
in this report, covering a range of health, animal welfare, environmental,
climate-change, resource-efficiency and ethical dimensions. As
a result there is a wide range of different food label claims
recyclable packaging, food miles, organic, local, carbon
footprint, fair trade, lower fat, low salt, etc. Recognising the
multi-faceted nature of sustainable food, the Government should
examine the scope for simple and consistent labelling on the sustainability
of food products, perhaps through a weighting system to produce
an overall score.
53. The Sustainable Development Commission recommended
that schools be encouraged to put further emphasis on practical
food experience, including cooking skills and food growing, and
to help develop future 'food citizenship' skills to understand
how marketing affects food choices. Food Matters and the Brighton
and Hove Food Partnership believed that a sustainable food system
required skills and knowledge at all points in the food chain.
People needed skills for managing local food networks (paragraph
39) and individual skills for preparing more sustainable food,
including knowledge about cooking and healthy eating as well as
information on how food is produced. BHFP's efforts were focussed
on ensuring that there were local outlets for local producers
to supply, and that there was an infrastructure to facilitate
this, and this capacity-building for partnership working in local
food systems required expertise and local knowledge.
54. In March 2012, the Defra supported, Food
Growing in Schools Taskforce report,
found that the most effective food growing schools achieve significant
learning, skills, health and wellbeing outcomes for children and
young people. Food growing in schools had a positive impact on
the schools, local communities, organisations and businesses involved.
It concluded that more support was needed for school staff to
undertake food growing activities with children including more
resources for food growing. It found that more could be done to
involve communities in food growing activities in schools, and
that their involvement could deliver wider benefits for the children
and their communities. The taskforce concluded that learning to
grow food at school equipped children with an understanding of
wider environmental skills that would be useful in delivering
a 'greener' economy. It noted, however, that on the curriculum
food growing is viewed in isolation from other subjects and is
seen only as a "nice to do" activity.
55. In 2008 the Government announced that every
pupil would receive at least 24 hours of cookery classes during
the first three years of secondary school.
In January 2011 the Secretary of State for Education announced
a review of the National Curriculum in England which is expected
to be implemented in 2014.
A number of organisations, including the British Medical Association
and Sustain are campaigning for the Government to retain the cookery
requirement in the National Curriculum. They argued that without
basic cooking skills, people have to rely more on processed food
which can be less healthy and higher in saturated fat, salt and
sugar than alternatives.
56. Sustain argued that young people's appreciation
of what is healthy and good to eat is being undermined by online
2011 the Advertising Standard Authority's remit was extended to
include online advertising, including company websites and social
networking platforms. Sustain said that unlike television regulations,
the non-broadcast code did not distinguish between healthy and
unhealthy food. It existed to ensure that advertising was 'legal,
decent, honest and truthful', rather than to protect and promote
health. Research by the Children's Food Campaign and the British
Heart Foundation found that over 75% of websites that showed products
high in fat, salt or sugar had links to social networking sites
that were designed to "appeal to children through the use
of language intended for, spoken by or directed to children".
We welcome the findings of
the Food Growing in Schools Taskforce. Good food education and
skills, such as cooking and gardening, should be part of the curriculum
in all schools. The current review of the national curriculum
provides an opportunity for the Government to promote that. The
Government should consider stricter advertising limits, to extend
the protection for children from junk food marketing on children's
television to all media viewed by children, including the internet.
57. The requirement for increasing yields, and
the risks that come from 'intensification', may be eased to some
degree by reducing food waste. Colin Tudge, from the Campaign
for Real Farming, told us that feeding an increasing global population
could be achieved by eliminating waste, and that the risks associated
with intensification were not worth delivering it.
The World already produces enough food for 14 billion people,
twice the present population.
The Foresight report calculated that as much as 30% of
all food grown worldwide might be lost or wasted before and after
it reaches the consumer. Addressing waste across the entire food
chain would be critical in any strategy to feed eight billion
people sustainably and equitably by 2030, and nine billion by
2050. Foresight saw halving the total amount of food waste by
2050 as a realistic target.
WWF believed that making the food chain more efficient through
waste reduction measures would reduce pressure on resources required
for food production, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute
to other policy agendas such as cutting the need for further space
set aside for landfill, which in turn would further reduce greenhouse
58. In a UK context, WRAP estimated that 30%
of household food purchases were thrown away, much of which was
edible. WRAP and WWF calculated that 3% of the UK's carbon foot
print could be avoided and 6% of the UK's water footprint could
be saved by tackling household waste.
The Government has taken some measures to reduce waste and has
asked manufacturers to scrap sell-by dates, which are meant for
stock control purposes rather than food safety. It has produced
guidance stipulating that a single 'best before' date is displayed
on products, to help stop customers unnecessarily discarding produce
too soon. It has also published a new Anaerobic Digestion Strategy
and action plan to increase energy generated from food waste.
The Government's £250 million Weekly Collection Support Scheme
can now to used for separated food waste collections. 
59. WWF saw some scope, however, for further
action across the supply chain to reduce waste:
I think it is crazy that non-animal food waste from
things like schools and prisons is not fed to livestock. That
came in after obviously the BSE crisis. I would encourage the
Government and the Committee to look at that aspect, but also
other aspects in terms of working with the food retail sector
through the Courtauld Agreement that set key targets in terms
of reducing food waste.
60. The private member's Food Waste
Bill, debated in the House in March 2012,
aimed to require large food retailers and manufacturers to reduce
food waste and donate surplus food to charities for redistribution
and, when food is unfit for human consumption, to make it available
for livestock feed. One way of reducing food waste from food outlets
is through sustainability 'audits' of restaurants and
of 'doggy-boxes' that the Sustainable Restaurant Association
have developed. Although the Bill will not progress with the end
of the Parliamentary Session imminent, it has received much support.
61. We welcome that the Government
will now enable local authorities to use the £250 million
Weekly Collection Support Scheme to initiate food waste collections.
Without such collections, there is a risk to the use of food waste
in anaerobic digestion, as well as for packaging recycling rates.
The Government must ensure that there is sufficient funding available
for all councils to be able to make sufficiently regular and separated
food collections, to help develop a healthy anaerobic digestion
62. The Government should also
undertake new research to consider the opportunities and risks
in using food waste to feed livestock.
91 Food Standards Agency, Low Income Diet and Nutrition
Survey, 2007. Back
The Marmot Review, Fair Society, Healthy Lives, 2010. Back
Department of Health, Healthy Lives, Healthy People, 2011. Back
WWF Livewell, 2011. Back
Ev 164 Back
The Government Office for Science, Foresight, The Future of
Food and Farming, 2011. Back
Ev 103, Ev 122, Ev 129 Back
Ev w73 Back
Ev 125 Back
Food Growing in Schools Taskforce, Report, March 2012. Back
Department for Children, Schools and Families, Press Notice, Compulsory
cooking lessons for all young people, 2008. Back
Department for Education, review of the National Curriculum, 2011. Back
Ev 129 Back
Heart Foundation and Children's Food Campaign, The 21st
C. Gingerbread house: how companies are marketing junk food to
children online, 2011. Back
Qq 88-92 Back
International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and
Technology for Development, Agriculture at a Crossroads,
Government Office for Science, Foresight, The Future of Food
and Farming, 2011. Back
Ev 104 Back
Ev w 62 Back
Defra, Anaerobic Digestion Strategy and Action Plan, 2011,
and Defra, Guidance on the application of date labels to food,
Communities and Local Government, Press Notice, £250 million
fund to herald return of better weekly collections, February
HC Deb, 14 March 2012, c261. Back
We had an informal briefing from the SRA when we met 2012 'Climate
Week' finalists. (see www.thesra.org) Back