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Recipe For Success - Scotland's National Food and Drink Policy

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Healthier, sustainable choices

"The Scottish Government's funding is helping us to link-up more small Scottish food producers with schools and hospitals, enabling them to serve-up healthy meals for their children, patients and staff made from the finest local, fresh and seasonal produce."
Hugh Raven, Director of the Soil Association in Scotland

Scotland's Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham joins Perth schoolchildren for the launch of the Positive Package campaign to encourage householders to reduce, reuse and recycle product packaging.
Scotland's Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham joins Perth schoolchildren for the launch of the Positive Package campaign to encourage householders to reduce, reuse and recycle product packaging.

Percentage of adults overweight and obese, Scotland, 1995, 1998, 2003

Percentage of adults overweight and obese, Scotland, 1995, 1998, 2003

Food safety is also important for our health and the health of our food and drink industry. Failure to remain vigilant on food safety can undermine consumer confidence, erode reputations and result in financial losses.

The global economic crisis, predictions on climate change, issues around waste and the developing obesity problem sharpen the need to develop a food system in Scotland that supports better public health and embraces environmental sustainability. This food system should reduce the economic drain of health care costs on diet related diseases, the cost to the wellbeing of Scotland's people of these diseases and the effects on Scotland's environment of our ecological footprint.

There are many challenges in considering health and environmental sustainability together with potential areas of conflict, but these are not insurmountable and indeed they highlight the need to work in partnership within Scotland, in the wider UK and on the world stage. We intend to take up this challenge to make Scotland a healthier and more environmentally sustainable nation. We will exploit the potential opportunities provided by wider work to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

A poor diet and excessive consumption of food and drink contributes directly to the high rates of the main causes of death (heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes) and poor health (obesity, dental decay) in Scotland.

Percentage of adults overweight and obese, Scotland, 1995, 1998, 2003

Progress so far

We have introduced ground-breaking climate change legislation which provides a challenging framework for mitigating potential environmental damage. We have also put £6 million funding to Waste and Resources Action Programme to improve the provision of infrastructure, including anaerobic digestion plants and in-vessel composters, to treat food waste.

We are helping the people of Scotland to be proactive in improving their health through a £56 million action plan outlined in Healthy Eating, Active Living, including a major social marketing campaign (Take Life On) aimed at helping people focus on simple, practical and achievable steps towards a healthier life. The campaign has also involved work with retailers on specific guidance on how to prepare low-cost healthy meals.

We have produced a robust package of measures to tackle alcohol misuse in Scotland as set out in our Alcohol Framework for Action, launched on 2 March 2009.

We also recently launched our Eat more Fish Campaign, which encourages everyone to eat more fish as part of a balanced diet.

Next steps

We want to bring together the key issues of health and environmental sustainability with business and community needs to support the ongoing implementation and development of the National Food and Drink Policy.

To do this we will put in place a Health and Sustainability Framework which will allow us to better assess the impact of policy on diet and sustainability. A crucial part of this process will be working in partnership with key stakeholders, including Food Standards Agency Scotland and local authorities.

Our work on health and sustainability will include:

  • A regular assessment of the implementation of Food and Drink Policy against the Dietary Goals (which will be reviewed and updated as required).
  • Use the latest research evidence to link our environmental goals to our food and nutritional goals.
  • Mapping and exploring possible actions to constrain non-broadcast marketing of high fat, sugar or salt foods to children.
  • Reducing the industry's greenhouse gas emissions, waste and other environmental impacts through various initiatives, including the recently announced environmental footprinting for the dairy industry.
  • Encouraging healthier and more sustainable food and drink choices, including work on reformulation and front of pack labelling schemes and providing effective information and advice to consumers on food.
  • Improve consumer awareness and influence the reduction of excessive consumption of unhealthy, unsustainable foodstuffs. This includes developing suitable material targeting key moments in people's lives.
  • Encouraging the use of the Nutritional Requirements for Food and Drink in the Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2008, to inform further practices in commercial catering.
  • Working with Local Authorities to identify what they can do to influence their local environment to support healthier more sustainable food choices.
  • Working with Consumer Focus Scotland to implement the Healthy living Award Plus - a new higher level of award that further increases the range of healthier choices available from participating caterers.
  • Supporting industry and the Food Standards Agency to develop systems for identifying, controlling and monitoring food safety risks across the supply chain through the Food Incident Prevention Strategy.