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Campaign and petition email responses | Stop Taking the Biscuit on Ultra Processed Foods

Campaign and petition email responses

Stop Taking the Biscuit on Ultra Processed Foods

Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy for England raised concerns about ultra-processed foods with the nation’s diet, but the UK Government’s response falls short of what the public requires to tackle the growing problem of obesity where adults in Britain are set to outnumber those of healthy weight within 5 years, and by 2040 nearly 4 in 10 adults in the UK are projected to be obese.


This is a looming health crisis that has cost implications for the future of our public services mainly the impact on the NHS in both the UK and in Scotland.


Last summer, the UK Government announced plans to limit or ban the advertising of unhealthy foods on TV before the 9pm watershed for ads of foods high in fat, salt and sugar, and a ban on online junk food ads due to come into force in January 2023. It is unfortunate that the UK Government’s food strategy fails to do what they promised on junk food advertising on TV and the internet.


As broadcasting is a reserved issue, the SNP continue to call for this power to be devolved to ensure the Scottish Government can better control marketing direct towards vulnerable groups like junk foods ads and sugary foods.


Whilst Buy One Get One Free offers increase purchases of a product on average by 15% as found in the Dimbleby review, and we all know to be true, unhealthy food is significantly cheaper than healthy food.


In Holyrood, the Good Food Nation Bill passed unanimously enshrining in law the Scottish Government’s commitment to Scotland being a Good Food Nation, where people from every walk of life take pride and pleasure in, and benefit from, the food they produce, buy, cook, serve, and eat each day.


The Soil Association called the Good Food Nation Bill “a landmark piece of legislation in Scotland” and called for similar food bills to be brought forward in England and Wales.


During the bill’s debate, the topic of ultra-processed foods was brought firmly onto the agenda of the Holyrood Parliament in collaboration with the Soil Association’s campaign.


Whilst the UPF amendments did not make it onto the face of the Bill, the Scottish Government had argued that it is a framework bill which requires ministers to produce a National Good Food Plan.


A Scottish Food Commission has been established for scrutinising and making recommendations in relation to the progress in achieving the outcomes in the good food nation plans; conducting research; and providing advice to Scottish Ministers and relevant authorities in carrying out their duties under the Act.


This world-leading approach will create links between policy at the national and local levels, with Government, local authorities and health boards all creating good food nation plans. Those plans will set out clear outcomes, indicators and policies across a range of areas relating to food including the environment, health and the economy.


This can be understood in food education which can equip school pupils with the key skills they need to cook tasty, nutritious meals using the array of produce we have in Scotland, and also make informed food choices when they are away from home.


In this Tory cost-of-living crisis, where families are struggling to put food on the table & skipping meals, and the Trussell Trust is increasingly warning of handing out record emergency food parcels, asking under and malnourished people to prioritise healthy food when they are struggling to buy food full stop shows it is not the right time to reduce food offers that may be a lifeline.


Brexit has compounded the cost-of-living crisis and the cost of food has risen due to greater bureaucracy levels, and trade barriers had led to a 6% increase in UK food prices. With inflation and the war in Ukraine increasing this further.


The UK Government’s Food Strategy is to reduce the distance between “farm and fork”, yet NFU President Minette Batters has said her industry was in an "absolute crisis", with good food being ploughed back into fields because national labour shortages are affecting our ability to pick foods grown in the fields impacting the whole supply chain pushing up food costs and the cost-of-living crisis.


Myself and my fellow SNP MPs in Westminster will continue to encourage the UK Government to implement a sustainable food strategy that targets high sugary products and ultra-processed foods which worsens the nation’s health outcomes, and follow the clear example of the Scottish Government.

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@StewartMcDonald on Twitter